Happy Midwinter!

Happy Midwinter to all my northern hemisphere friends!

Today is the December winter solstice – the shortest day and longest night. This morning I took these photos of a spider web that hangs between the railings on my terrace. The web has been there since summer, and has survived 38° heat, storms, horizontal rain, and the razor sharp teeth of the Mistral wind… yet despite being a bit battered and worn around the edges (a little like me) it’s still there.

As for the spider who guards the web? I saw her the other day scurrying down to investigate a potential meal, but unlucky for her it was just a fragment of leaf blown in by the breeze, and she scurried back up to her sheltered spot in an alcove.

The spider web on my terrace is a good image for me to hold up this midwinter time; it’s about bracing yourself against the elements, gathering nourishment and storing it for the cold months ahead. It’s about durability and strength. You could think of the life of a spider as solitary and predatory, a quite violent existence? Yet when you marvel at the intricacy of its web, iridescent against a wintry sun’s rays, you can’t help but seeing beauty.

The Spider. From The Celtic Animal Oracle. Anna Franklin. Illustrated by Paul Mason. 2003, Vega.

A TVTA toy spider.

A TVTA spider napkin art.


Happy December solstice 🙂

Lights in the sky – a special report

Seven falling lights formation seen on 10th December 2019 at 05.25.

December 10th. Tuesday. 2019. 05:25. Near the city of Toulon, Var, France.

Diary, I woke up at 05:05 ready to begin a 13 hour shift at work. At 05:25, I went out onto my terrace to fetch my bicycle, where I paused briefly to look up at the sky. It was dark, cold, with patches of stars visible against heavy rain clouds moving in from the north, and with a brisk, north-easterly wind snapping at my face, I steeled myself for what I suspected would be a daunting ride ahead.

Then something caught my attention: in the lower part of the south-eastern sky, I saw seven bright stars in a perfect vertical line aiming down at the horizon. At first I believed it was Orion’s Belt – but the constellation of Orion is not visible in this part of the sky at this hour in December, and normally appears around 22.00 in the evening, plus, there are only three stars that form Orion’s Belt, and I was witnessing seven.

What could they be? All at once, the seven stars began moving, descending, and I had to quickly reassess that what I was witnessing were not stars at all… they were moving lights in the sky!

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Top 10 non-medical doctors in pop culture who might be able to aid you in an urgent medical situation

The pitch: You are in the jungle, slowly bleeding to death. Your left leg needs amputating. You have been stung multiple times by angry hornets. You have been partially mauled to death by a black panther. Bitten by a venomous snake. Vultures are circling overhead. The beast of the jungle – a 60 foot Megaprimatus ape – is waiting for nightfall to finish you off!

Short of a miracle, you are completely fu^@*d! Luckily there are ten doctors who might be able to aid you. Problem is, none of them are medical doctors! Nevertheless, each one possesses certain skills, powers and motivations which may help save your life… or not!!

Let’s rate your chances…

1. Dr Pepper

Dr. Pepper, so misunderstood. The Dying You: “I understand you are a can of carbonated soft drink?” Dr. Pepper: “You misunderstand me, I am actually a tin robot full of medicine.” The Dying You: “Thank goodness, any chance you can save my life?” Dr. Pepper: “No, I am lying, I really am a can of carbonated soft drink.” The Dying You: “Curse you Dr. Pepper!!” Dr. Pepper: “Muhuhuhahahaha!”.

Quite obviously you are hallucinating from your injuries, and are conversing with a can of carbonated soft drink. Dr. Pepper is unable to aid you. Chances of survival: 0%  

Dr Pepper advert, 1947. Image Wikipedia

2. Dr. Phibes

Dr. Anton Phibes is a famous concert organist and expert of music, who was thought to have died in a car crash while racing to visit his wife, Victoria, who was having emergency surgery. Phibes survived the crash, but was horribly disfigured and left unable to speak. After learning of Victoria’s death, Phibes went into hiding and developed an evil revenge plan to kill the incompetent surgeons he believed were guilty of Victoria’s death.

It is highly unlikely that the seriously unhinged Dr. Phibes will aid you in any way whatsoever, unless you happen to resemble his beloved Victoria, or are able to seduce him with a vast, musical knowledge you probably don’t possess. Chances of survival: 2%

The Abominable Dr. Phibes. 1971. Movie Time DVD.

3. Doctor Octopus

Save your life? Unlikely. This Marvel supervillain is more likely to baffle your brain with his knowledge of atomic physics, before battering you with one of his four electrically powered, prehensile, tentacle arms. Chances of survival: 8%

Doctor Octopus. Top Trumps.

4. Dr. Manhattan

Before Dr. Manhattan became a superhero he was Dr. Jonathan Osterman, a nuclear physicist who survived disintegration in an Intrinsic Field Subtractor, and managed to reconstruct himself into an all-powerful being.

Prone to mood swings, and with a strong sense of detachment from human suffering, butt-naked Dr. Manhattan is unlikely to help you in your hour of need. But you never know… it all depends on what mood he is in! Chances of survival: 19%

Cover detail of Watchmen. By Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. Titan Books, 2008, Spain.

5. Dr. Lillian Isley (Poison Ivy)

Before Posion Ivy became a formidable DC supervillainess, she was Dr. Pamela Lillian Isley, PhD, a Gotham City botanist who studied advanced botanical biochemistry. Poison Ivy is in her element in a jungle setting, and may well rise to the challenge of battling a 60 foot ape beast with nought else but whatever jungle toxins she can mix up into a potion, and depending on what mood she is in (sweet or evil?) there is a slim to fair chance she may help you in your hour of need. Chances of survival: 34% 

Variant cover of Batman vol. 3, #26, Sept. 2017.
Art by Joshua Middleton. Image Wikipedia

6. Dr. Hook

At last, things are looking up for you!

Dr. Hook was an American rock band who enjoyed chart success throughout the 1970s and 80s with hits like “Sylvia’s Mother”, “When You’re in Love with a Beautiful Woman”, “Better Love Next Time”, and “Sexy Eyes”.

Don’t wanna end up being a human banana for King Kong’s hungry cousin? Then let Dr. Hook’s Essential hits save your skin with smooth ballads penned to lullaby even the most fearsome beast of the jungle into a state of tranquility, as you crawl to the nearest hospital! Chances of survival: 50%

Dr. Hook. Essential.

7. Doktor Avalanche

More musical medicine! Doktor Avalanche is a drum machine and credited band member of dark rockers The Sisters of Mercy. Essentially, Doktor Avalanche was whatever drum machine lead singer Andrew Eldritch was using at the time, and the good Doktor underwent several electronic incarnations across their three studio albums and live tours.

Rhythm may well save you here, as the 60 foot ape beast of the jungle is mesmorised by the dark and hypnotic loops of “Black Planet”, “Lucretia My Reflection”, “Dominion”, and “Doctor Jeep”. Chances of survival: 60%  

Boss DR. Rhythm. DR. 55. As used by The Sisters of Mercy and called Doktor Avalanche.

Floodland. The Sisters of Mercy.

8. Dr. Seuss

Theodor Seuss Geisel was an American children’s author, political cartoonist and animator, and is famous for his internationally-loved stories like The Cat in the HatGreen Eggs and Ham, and One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. Dr. Seuss offers a decent chance of saving you as he entertains and bamboozles the ape-beast of the jungle with his fun and nonsensical tales. Chances of survival: 75%

Cover for Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss. 1997, Harper Collins, UK.

9. Doctor Graves

Dr. M. T. Graves hosted stories for The Many Ghosts of Doctor Graves which was published by Charlton Comics throughout the 1960s to 1980s. Graves is well-equipped in matters of the supernatural, and among his many talents are energy manipulation and magic. Bringing a cool, calm and intellectual air to any scene of alarm, Doctor Graves is certain to be able help. Chances of survival: 82%

US. Charlton. The Many Ghosts of Doctor Graves. Steve Ditko cover. 1969.

10. The Doctor

Time travelling adventurer, the Doctor, may not have medical expertise, but you can bet your left leg (why not, it needs amputating anyway) that the Doctor will always find a way to get you out of a tight spot! And with so many Doctors to choose from, you will be spoiled for choice! Chances of survival: 98%

The many faces of The Doctor. Image BBC.

Doctor Who. Thirteen action figure. TVTA collection.

Doctor Who. Vol 1. Marvel US. Cover by Earl Norem. 1981.

*****************************************

Top Ten Time’s up! That’s all folks! We hope you managed to survive with the aid of one of our handy non-medical doctors, and didn’t end up as ape dinner in the middle of the jungle!

Get well soon 🙂

What is your special super power?

Whether you’re a superhero or a supervillain, one thing’s for certain… you’re going to need a special super power!

Now you can use TVTA’s handy chart below to find out yours!

Let us know in the comments what your special super power is!


What the critics said:

“Marvellous! TVTA does it again! The only blog to provide free super powers!” – The Morning Early Evening Weekly Daily Standard.

“Holy soup! The Incredible TVTA bestows super powers to blogosphere!” – The Times Litter Supplement.

“TVTA saves cat in tree!” – Feline Fine in Space Monthly.


Thanks for getting super powerful with us 🙂

Ka-pow image courtesy of Wyatta. Collage and chart by TVTA.

Top tips for being a successful blogger in an age of uncertainty


Greetings vintage mates,

If you wish to become a successful blogger in this age of uncertainty,

you will need…

#1 – a ridiculous but click-worthy title. Like the one I’ve used for today’s post. Utterly meaningless. But somewhat intriguing. I’d click on it for sure.

You will also need…

#2 – attention-grabbing pic fairly early on, as some people simply won’t be bothered to read your words, no matter how good a wordsmith you are. I already added a cool pic at the start of the post, but here’s another one to keep things fresh…

How to handle your hamster correctly.


#3 – you will also need a sense of self-deprecation. As editor of TVTA I daily suck at many things. I try to do well but often fail miserably, or spectacularly. Here I am one time in Paris, trying to look cool but in reality taking up valuable image hosting space which could be used for something far more useful. Thank goodness I don’t have a Facebook or Instagram to share this photo on!

I eat croissants. Portrait of the artist in pre-tentious moment of vintage grandeur. Mon Dieu, I love France, and it’s curious and beautiful people, and old-school postcards, and display rack anti-theft devices.


To be a successful blogger in an age of uncertainty you will also need:

#4 – a loyal and intrepid office cat. Like TVTA’s very own Wooof! 75% of stuff that gets done around here can be attributed to the cat. The other 25% is me, but only because the cat has mind-control powers which I am unable to resist – no matter how often I wear my protective blue and red lens vintage 3D glasses, or the orange and purple-striped teflon-lined woolen jersey Mrs Coldkettle the tea lady knitted me last winter.

Wooof, TVTA intrepid office cat (in secret moustache and Dicky Bow disguise kit).


#5 – a fear of clowns. This will help you to focus, stay sharp, and keep you on your blogging toes at all times!

Run like the wind!


#6 – space ships. Statistics show that 71% of successful bloggers in an age of uncertainty have access to functional spaceships.


#7 – Giant motorised fruit and vegetables. A must-have for bloggers in an age of uncertainty!


#8 – you will also need a Karma Credit Roll

What’s this?

A Karma Credit Roll, or as TVTA likes to sometimes call it The Boomerang In Your Arms Effect is quite simply the force of love. In the words of the great German thinker/Scorpions vocalist, Klaus Mein: “The more love you give, the more you’ll find.” In blogging terms this can be related to an appreciation of the works of your fellow bloggers to gain an appreciation of your own work, while at the same time creating an enriching environment for all.


#9 – you’re also gonna need a stack of vintage adverts, magazines and comics! (if that’s your thing). Luckily Wooof and I have a few thousand of these scattered around the place…


#10 – and lastly, to be a successful blogger in an age of uncertainty, you will need to post a Top-Ten list of something you think is cool, even if it’s been done before, or it’s not cool, or it doesn’t make any sense – you absolutely must (by internet law) make a Top-Ten list of something… which is exactly what I’ve done with this post 🙂

Now, sit back, soak up all those likes, comments, reblogs, and endorsements from major corporations and Hollywood stars. You’ve earned it baby!

Suggested power song to blog to today: “The Best” by Tina Turner.

As always, thanks for looking 🙂

This post was brought to you by office cat disguise kits and top ten lists of top ten things to top ten list about when you generally avoid top ten things. No hamsters, fruit or vegetables were handled incorrectly in this production. All images courtesy of French comic/magazine Pif Gadget

Curiouser and curiouser… the Bburago HAT Catalogue 1976, starring:

“The Curious Case of the Random, Everyday Objects Superimposed Next to the Cars!”

… and nothing to do with hats, though it is a little mad, Alice…

… mad objects like coins, pasta, moon rocks, pencil shavings, Andorran flag bottle tops, and more! Maybe some of our Italian visitors can help out with the significance of these photographed objects placed next to drawings of cars? Or will they be as nonplussed as us? Non? What’s Italian for ‘no’? The catalogue in question is Italian, a Bburago HAT (Hobbies And Toys) 1976 N°2 edition. Perhaps catalogue N°1 had similar designs? The objects seem to be ‘hobby’ or ‘food’ related? Just how are these everyday items related to toy cars??

So many questions, I know, I know! Let’s move quickly to the scans which show some truly wonderful artwork of the models available by Bburago at the time. As was often typical with 1970s advertising, design teams didn’t photograph their product they hired artists to draw it!


The cover… already you see weird objects, but not so noticeable as the images are tiny…


Inside… it all begins in a quite orderly fashion with a very cool cross section of a die cast car…


And then… Bam! Straight down the rabbit hole… it’s random object time… 

(with bonus FREE pun-and-nonsense commentary from our editing team!!)

1.

… A serious car, serious coinage!

Coins!


2.

Please put the lid back on the toothpaste when you’ve finished brushing your teeth!

Toothpaste lid!


3.

Somebody call me a thimble!

Thimble!


4.

Excuse me, officer, I seem to have lost my marbles!

Marbles!

There are others…

Think I’ve got most of them…

(click images to go bigger)

5 – 22


23.

Bottle tops. The nearest one appears to be the Andorran flag?

Bottle tops!


24.

The pen is mightier than the police car?

Pen nibs!


25.

Back to school. Pencil shavings!

Pencil shavings!

At school, in your pencil case, you were likely to have a cheap, plastic sharpener, red, yellow or blue or something; if you were lucky, you’d have one of those sturdy, metal, technical drawing sharpeners; some had sharpeners that were moulded inside see-through containers into which the shavings could be collected and emptied later; others had novelty promotional sharpeners for cartoon, TV and film characters.

Then there was the ‘beast-of-all-sharpeners’… the one that belonged to the entire class, usually bolted onto the end of the teacher’s desk – a sinister-looking device that could grind down three different-sized pencils at a time, automatic or crank handle-operated, when in motion it sounded like a derailed steam train driven over a cliff by Godzilla, and this monster of a pencil-sharpener, make no mistake, could easily rip off your fingers, and the entire lower arm of some of the smaller pupils!


26.

Decorative beads or tongue-tingling sweets?? No fear, we’re not taste-testing them, they’ve been out of their packaging since 1976!

Decorative beads or tongue-tingling sweets??

Calls down to archives: “Wooof… got some tasty new treats for you to test out, dear cat(muhuhahaha)…”
Wooof: “But you’ve already tested them yourself, dear editor.”
Me: “I have?”
Wooof: “Yes, what do you think it was that I sprinkled on top of your cappuccino this morning?”
Me (going green about the gills): “Uuumph!”


27.

… And finally… a back pages questionnaire, for kids, in Italy, in 1976.


Thanks for identifying random objects with us :) If you know the identity of any of the mystery objects in today's post please let us know in the comments. Likewise, if you have any idea what is going on, about anything at all really, ever, we're here, and we'd like to know too! This post has been brought to you by TVTA random objects and old school schools of old school school stories.