Sunday, 4 December 2016

C & H

Calvin and Hobbes

Santa vs Jesus


Christmas-themed board game in which Santa and Jesus “go-head-to-head” has been dubbed “shocking and blasphemous” with calls for it to be banned from Amazon.
Santa vs Jesus, created by Komo Games, invites players to divide into two teams – Team Santa and Team Jesus – and complete various challenges in order to win the most “believers”.

My photo

A lot of people have got the arse over this game but the best comment for me was from the gadge/spokesperson for the Evangelical Alliance, who said "it trivialises Christian belief and equates them both as fictional characters".

Am I to understand God is real and there is proof of his/her existence?

Quality Piece

I’m so deeply proud of my Scottish roots and the many quirky traditions that I grew up with that it is sometimes easy to forget that others find some of the things that we do as a little bit odd. Since I moved to London, my casual chatting about the joys of battered pizzas and macaroni cheese pies have been met with baffled frowns.

There are a few things that we do in Scotland that seem to baffle the rest of the UK – not least of all daring to want a say in how our own country is moving forward by discussing independence.
But these 15 things are a lot more low key than that – from foods that no-one else has heard of to (gasp!) talking to people we don’t know, here are just some very Scottish things that we think should catch on elsewhere, but no-one else seems to quite get.

1. We deep fry pizzas

(Picture: Flickr)
Pizzas are not quite calorie heavy enough for us – look, we need the padding, have you felt the bitter winds up here? Dropping a pizza into a deep fat fryer sounds like an abomination, until you taste it. If you thought Italy did pizzas best, then you’ve never tried one of these doughy heart attacks that are so bad for you they can’t be anything but good. Until the heartburn kicks in anyway. Worth it.

2. We batter chocolate tae

In fact, we batter everything. Stodgy and greasy food is such a good thing that many of our chippies run a service where they will deep fry most things you bring in for a small cost. Chocolate, in particular, is a queer battered delicacy that many other folk find too queasy a prospect to get on board with. Everyone needs to try a battered creme egg at least once in their life.

3. We talk to strangers

We don’t encourage our wains to strike up conversations with loners in parks, don’t get us wrong. But we do say hello when we walk past people in the street, something which seems like a bizarre concept in London and one that is likely to get you arrested. In Scotland, you’d be considered odd and downright rude to the point you’d deserve a Glasgow kiss if you didn’t at least smile at people you walked past. And people in the pub you never clapped eyes on before can become your best mate for the night within the first downed dram of whisky. Being friendly feels great.

4. We celebrate everything with a ceilidh

15 apparently weird things Scottish people do that everyone else in the UK struggles to understand
(Picture: Getty)
Your nightclubs and mosh pits can go and boil their heeds, nothing says ‘something good has happened’ like a proper ceilidh. A pure, Gaelic gathering, there’s country dancing where you link arms with everyone whether you know them or not, uplifting and traditional live music and plenty of booze flowing. Once the inhibitions are dropped, everyone just has a great laugh.
We even teach country dancing in our schools as part of P.E. Who needs rounders anyway?

5. We use Irn Bru as a mixer

D547Y0 Scotland's favourite drink Irn-Bru produced at A G Barr, Glasgow.. Image shot 2013. Exact date unknown.
(Picture: Barr)
Vodka and coke? Nothing compared to vodka and that beautiful orange beverage. Irn Bru flows through the veins of every true Scot and most of our pubs have it on tap where English pubs would have lemonade. A pub that doesn’t serve Irn Bru is one not worth visiting.

6. We call everyone a c*** and don’t mean any offence

Utter this word anywhere else, even as part of a joke, and you’re liable to draw gasps but Scots often use it as a term of endearment. Given that it’s just a word and that context is more offensive than the lexis itself, dropping the c-bomb (aka ‘y’allright ya wee, c***? How you been deein’?) as a casual greeting to your pals is no biggie in the North.

7. We use our own created chip sauce

Salt and vinegar is so vanilla. Our chippies offer you salt and sauce and what you get is a concoction of brown sauce watered down with vinegar. Lashings of it, tae.

8. We disown anyone who drinks whisky with anything other than more whisky

15 apparently weird things Scottish people do that everyone else in the UK struggles to understand
(Picture: Getty)
Even for Scots, it takes a while to get used to the burn of straight whisky when you first become a drinker. But water it down with anything at your peril in Scotland – the distilleries don’t supply you with this liquid gold just so you can flood it with coke. The only time this is acceptable is when you are trying to sober up – the closest thing to having a glass of water between drinks is by putting ‘panny’ in your dram. And even then, you’re on thin ice.

9. We celebrate Hogmanay for about a week and a piece of coal is the centre piece of proceedings

Hadaway with your rave past midnight and then two day hangover – New Year is the biggest event in the Scottish calendar. We start early and we finish late – our Hogmanay celebrations go on for days and many Scottish folks have an open house for several days for anyone and everyone to pop through, offer their wishes and share a drink. And in the middle of it all, we still hold dear the tradition of ‘first footin’ – if the man of the house doesn’t carry a piece of coal over the threshold of the front door at the New Year, then you pretty much deserve the bad luck coming your way.

10. We have a day dedicated to a poet

English people don’t honour their bard enough – aye, you have a Shakespeare day but do you mark it in your house with a dedicated meal and a family gathering? Scottish people make a big deal of Rabbie Burns’ birthday on 25th January with a full meal of haggis, neeps and tatties. Die hards will also dress up in full kiltage and enjoy readings from some of his work.

11. We put entire meals inside pies

For when mac and cheese is insufficient sustenance, we have macaroni cheese pies. For when a full lasagne won’t do, we chuck that into a pie too. Chicken curry pies, chill con carne pies, shepherds pie pies – you name it, and we’ll have it in a pie.

12. We wear kilts to a wedding and wear nowt underneath

The biggest fear for most at a wedding is making a fool of themselves on the dancefloor but for men at a Scottish wedding, the real gamble is keeping your crown jewels in check. You won’t find many places windier that the Scottish highlands so we chose to make weddings a total gamble by making it a tradition to go starkers underneath kilts. And if the gust doesn’t expose you, that one, drunk English guest who insists on finding out if you’re a true Scotsman will.

13. We are not averse to combining cheese with gravy

In England, the ideal drunk food is a kebab – a devastatingly macabre take on a Turkish delicacy which involves slices of god knows what kind of meat in a flimsy pitta bread with the whole lot disguised under a pile of purple cabbage and garlic sauce. We go down the more simpler route and yet as much as I turn my nose up at a kebab, those down South will be horrified by the fact we have cheese melted on chips and then pour gravy on it. Don’t knock it ’til you try it.

14. We use 500 miles as a final song no matter what the occasion

It has pretty much become our anthem for any night out be it a night on the town, a wedding, a christening, a funeral or a work do. If the DJ hasn’t played the Proclaimers hit (or at least a rendition of The Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond), then the night hasn’t finished.

15. We handle the cawld

Ten inches of snow? So what? Our public transport laughs in the face of winter. And so do we. We’re used to it being cold and wet pretty much all year round so when the lethal stuff hits, we just get on with it. Those down south who grind to a standstill over a light dusting must wonder how we do it – while we wonder how they manage to be clever enough to wangle a day off work for a few flakes of the white stuff. Bravo.

Read more at Metro

Collect £200

monopoly2In 1933 at the height of the Great Depression, a down-on-his luck Charles Darrow invented the still-extremely popular board game Monopoly, making the impoverished man a millionaire seemingly overnight- a personification of the American Dream. Never able to fully explain how he came up with the concept, Darrow once described his invention as “totally unexpected” and a “freak” of nature. Over the last eight decades, the game has entertained hundreds of millions of people and made Darrow an exceptionally wealthy man in his lifetime, with his name forever etched in gaming lore. However, this Monopoly origin story should not pass “Go” and should not collect two hundred dollars. In other words, while still often repeated today, it’s false. The true inventor of Monopoly was a turn-of-the-century feminist and left-wing activist Elizabeth Magie, who was looking to create a game that illustrated certain economic concepts. Here’s the story behind why Darrow is given credit for the creation of one of the world’s most famous board games despite having almost nothing to do with any part of its creation.  
The daughter of local newspaper publisher and noted abolitionist James Magie, Elizabeth Magie was raised to question the governing class. She admired her father and was often told she was a “chip off the old block,” which she thought of as a compliment once saying, “I am proud of my father for being the kind of an ‘old block’ that he is.”  As a young girl, her father exposed Magie to progressive, anti-capitalist writings and attitudes, including Henry George’s 1879 best-selling book, “Progress and Poverty.” This influential book was the seed in which the famed game grew from.
Most notable to the subject at hand, the book pushed a single land tax replacing all other taxes, positing that it would affect the wealthy more heavily, redistribute wealth, curb poverty and destroy monopolies.
At the turn of the 20th century, board games were becoming all the rage. As the middle-class began to grow and work moved into factories (and away from the home) and the work day was starting to be markedly shortened (see: Why is a Typical Work Day Eight Hours Long?), the house became the center of leisure activity. Hence, the boom in creation of more complex games beyond cards or dice in the ensuing decades. Knowing that a board game would better capture the attention of her middle-class audience and thus potentially be a good vehicle to help illustrate and spread George’s principles, Magie began working on games based on them. Specifically creating an anti-monopolist and a monopolist game, illustrating both sides of the issue. In 1897, the monopolist version debuted and, six years later, she patented it as “The Landlord’s Game.”
landlords-game3While not quite what we play today, there are striking similarities between Magie’s original game and Monopoly. Landlord’s was also played with fake money and deeds which were used to pay rent, taxes and purchase property. Moving around the board, players earned wages for labor performed and got a hundred dollars for moving past the “Mother Earth Space” – basically, this game’s version of passing Go. Other spaces forced players to pay money. Public Parking and Jail were situated on the corner’s boards, just like today. There were Chance cards, but they were adorned with quotes from Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Carnegie. There was even a space that read “Go to Jail,” which means exactly what it does today – one had to sit in jail until they rolled doubles or paid a $50 fine. The game ends when all but one person runs out of money.
Magie prided herself not on the game play, but its message. “It is a practical demonstration of the present system of land-grabbing with all its usual outcomes and consequences,” she wrote in a magazine in 1902. “It might well have been called the ‘Game of Life,’ as it contains all the elements of success and failure in the real world.” It was also meant as not-so-thinly-veiled indictment of industrialists like John Rockefeller.
Producing it in partnership with a New York-based firm, though it made her virtually no money (that was never really her goal in creating it), the Landlord’s Game became a popular pastime among the liberal intellectual crowd, played often on college campuses and in the northeast. In fact, its early spread in popularity was in no small part thanks to certain professors, such as Scott Nearing of the University of Pennsylvania and later at the University of Toledo, teaching it to students as a sort of fun example of certain finance and business concepts. Importantly to its evolution to the modern version of the game, it was also embraced by Quakers.
Within a decade of its launch, most of the rules we know and love today from the game were in place in one version or another, and even the name became a little more familiar.  For instance, sometime in the 1910s a variant of the game called Auction Monopoly popped up that shortened the game play slightly from the original, which required buying properties at their list price.  The Quakers would later drop the auction part in their version of the game for unclear reasons, restoring that part of the rules closer to the original 1904 version.
In these modified games, people tended to customize the names of the properties to fit their locality and slightly tweak the rules to their liking. (This is a trend that has continued with Monopoly, see: What Does Free Parking Do and the Many Other Ways in Which You’re Playing Monopoly Wrong That Makes it Take Longer)
By the 1920s, some began trying to profit from sales of their version of the game, such as one Dan Layman, who tried to patent his own version called The Fascinating Game of Finance (later just Finance) but failed when Magie’s patent was discovered by Layman’s attorney. Instead, Layman copyrighted and began selling his version of the board for the game.
After her patent expired, Magie decide to patent an updated version of her game in 1924. This updated version included minor changes from the original such as making it so that if you owned all of each of the railroads or utilities, you could charge higher rents on those properties.  She also introduced chips which signified properties had been upgraded, allowing the owner to charge more rent than otherwise.
So how does Charles Darrow come into the story?
Sometime around 1932, Darrow and his wife Esther were invited over for a dinner and a board game at the house of Oliver and Charles Todd, a Philadelphia businessman and a Quaker. Together, they played a Quaker version of Landlord’s Game.
Todd later stated of this,
The first people we taught [the game] to after learning it from the Raifords was Darrow and his wife Esther … It was entirely new to them. They had never seen anything like it before and showed a great deal of interest in it… Darrow asked me if I would write up the rules and regulations and I wrote them up and checked with Raiford to see if they were right and gave them to Darrow – he wanted two or three copies of the rules, which I gave him and gave Raiford and kept some myself.
What happened next was pure theft.
As explained in Mary Pilon’s 2015 The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World’s Favorite Board Game, Darrow was desperate for money to pull his family out of the doldrums of the Great Depression. Thus, taking the slightly modified rules and additions made by the Quaker community, and even having the audacity to use the existing not-uncommon name Monopoly, he began making hand-crafted sets of the game and selling them as his own creation.
As for his exact contributions to the game, it seems to be nothing more than some artwork and possibly a few very minor rule tweaks (although it isn’t actually clear if he came up with anything original that wasn’t already in existing versions). In fact, Darrow even copied the game so closely from Todd that he kept Todd’s misspelling of Marvin Gardens, which actually should be spelled Marven Gardens.
It worked out and his copies of the game began selling well enough that he had to expand his operation, all the while pitching the game to various companies with little success.  For instance, Milton Bradley turned down an offer from Darrow to buy the rights to “his” game in May of 1934.
Nevertheless, after managing to get Monopoly on the shelves at FAO Schwartz and having particularly strong Christmas sales in 1934, Robert Barton of Parker Brothers decided to buy the rights to the game for his struggling company. (If you’re wondering, Barton was the son-in-law of George Parker). They paid Darrow $7,000 (about $125,000 today) plus future residuals for the game and helped him patent it. Within a year, with Great Depression Americans imagining they too were industry tycoons, if only for a few hours at a time, the game flew off the shelves, selling nearly two million copies in that short span.
At this point you might be wondering why Parker Brothers didn’t get in a boatload of legal trouble for selling the game once it took off? Was it simply a case of Magie never finding out before her death, similar to that time Lego “borrowed” the “Lego” Brick from Kiddicraft and got away with it (See Bonus Fact below)? Not exactly.
Very quickly after purchasing the rights to the game, Parker Brothers learned Darrow had not been honest with them when he claimed he’d created it. They then traced it to its origin, with a little help from Darrow, who supposedly admitted what he’d done in a meeting when confronted by Barton. The result of this was Darrow’s contract with them being slightly re-negotiated, with Darrow now granting Parker Brothers worldwide rights to the game.
As for Magie, at this point her original 1904 patent had expired, which was good for Parker Brothers. However, the 1924 patent for the Landlord’s Game had not. Thus, Parker Brothers sought out and purchased Magie’s 1924 patent for a mere few hundred dollars and no future royalties if the game should sell well. They then produced that version of the game and sent her a copy, which she was reportedly ecstatic about. In fact, she sent a letter back to the company stating that since its arrival on her doorstep there was a “a song in my heart”. (Parker Brothers also began snapping up the copyrights and patents for other variants of the game, including the aforementioned Layman’s Finance version, just to further cover themselves.)
lizzieHowever, eventually Magie did learn of Monopoly and the song in her heart died abruptly. She wasn’t so much concerned with the fact that people were making millions off her game and she was getting nothing; she mostly just wanted credit for the game’s creation to be properly attributed to her, so went to the press about it.
In the end, all her complaints to Parker Brothers and beyond for them not giving her credit for the invention of Monopoly went largely ignored. In a later deposition, Barton even went so far as to call the Landlord’s Game “basically worthless” to his company.
Parker Brothers did, however, shut her up by agreeing to purchase and sell two other games of hers, Bargain Day and King’s Men, neither of which they ever did much with, and likewise were reportedly purchased for a paltry sum. They also briefly manufactured her Landlord’s Game as a bit of a token effort, but never really bothered marketing it much and it soon disappeared from the few shelves it had been put on.
In 1948, Magie died and the truth about the true origin of Monopoly very nearly died with her, as the official company line has long held that Darrow invented the game. Things changed in 1973 when Parker Brothers became engaged in a legal battle with professor Ralph Anspach over his Anti-Monopoly game. During the legal tussle, Anspach and his lawyers uncovered Magie’s patents. The real story of the origin of Monopoly slowly unfolded from there, though it’s still widely claimed today that Darrow was the sole inventor of the game despite all evidence to the contrary.
Bonus Fact:
  • In the late 1940s, a company called Kiddicraft began manufacturing “Kiddicraft Self-Locking Building Bricks”, which were patented by Hilary “Harry” Fisher Page.  Kirk Kristiansen, the founder of Lego, came across these bricks in a demo he was shown of an injection molding machine.  He then copied the bricks and sold versions of them under his own brand as “automatic binding bricks”.  It isn’t clear whether Kristiansen knew these bricks were patented or not at the time or just saw the potential of such a small plastic brick as a toy product when observing the injection molding machine demo.  Lucky for him, Page died without ever finding out Lego had copied, and was selling, a version of Kiddicraft’s product illegally. Some 31 years later, Lego acquired Kiddicraft when Lego was preparing to, ironically enough, sue Tyco for illegally copying Lego’s bricks; hence, to strengthen their case, they needed to own Kiddicraft and the original patent.  In the end, they lost the case anyway and Tyco got to continue selling the bricks, which at the time were earning them about $20 million annually.  So the $3 million Tyco spent in the legal battle with Lego ended up being well worth it.

As Easy As...

Chrimble Shambles

It seems like everybody and their mom and dads has released a Christmas album. For some artists, like Mariah Carey, it means selling millions of copies. But who wants to hear Bing Crosby sing “White Christmas” when you can hear a former reality show loser sing it? ‘Tis the season to forgo listening to your traditional holiday songs and opt for something a bit more unusual.


Hung appeared as a contestant on American Idol in 2004 and blew the world away with his rendition of Ricky Martin’s “She Bangs.” Actually, he did not advance to the next round, but a cult following soon manifested. His career culminated (ended) in October of 2004, when he released his second album, Hung for the Holidays, which only sold 35,000 copies. He sings, off-key, “Winter Wonderland,” “Little Drummer Boy,” and then randomly covers Queen’s “We Are the Champions.” After the failure of this record and the release of a third and final album, Hung retired from music.


Released 20 years ago, Christmas on Death Row is a compilation of various artists on the Death Row label. The music isn’t the worrisome thing here—it’s the album cover depicting Santa in the electric chair. (Don’t show it to grandma or the kids.) Songs include hits Snoop and Nate Dogg’s "Santa Claus Goes Straight to the Ghetto" and 6 Feet Deep's cover of “Silent Night.” If you like your holiday tunes filled with curse words, this one’s for you.


Honestly, this album has nothing to do with the finger-lickin’ Colonel except for the awesome album cover of him smiling while wearing a Santa hat (he could easily be mistaken for Santa, so maybe that’s the point). The album, released in 1969 (vintage!), features musical legends Chet Atkins covering “Jingle Bell Rock” and Harry Belafonte singing “Mary’s Little Boy Child.”



Spending Christmas at the Waffle House sounds like fun. They’re open 24/7, you know. According to, this is the second album the legendary chain has released, and it was compiled by Jerry Buckner and Gary Garcia, the guys responsible for the 1982 novelty song “Pac-Man Fever.”
There are traditional songs on the album, but few can top “Waffle House 12 Days of Christmas,” in which a couple sings, “My true love gave to me, 10 cups of coffee, eight chicken sandwiches, seven T-bone steaks, four eggs a fryin’, three sausage patties, two waffles baking, and a bowl of delicious hot grits” without a bit of irony.


On December 1, 1999, South Park aired a holiday-themed episode that featured a literal piece of crap coming alive and singing Christmas songs. One week before the episode’s premiere, the album was released. It includes songs from the episode, and a festive cover featuring Mr. Hankey chilling by the fire. Choice cuts include Mr. Garrison's “Merry F---king Christmas” and Mr. Hankey himself—“howdy ho!”—singing “Santa Claus Is On His Way.”


This album was just an excuse for then-daytime talk show host Rosie O’Donnell to brag about how she was buddies with Celine Dion, Elton John, and Elmo, then sing middling duets with them. Cher contributes (read: butchers) a dance-electro version of Darlene Love’s already-perfect “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” while Gloria Estefan and Rosie sing “Gonna Eat for Christmas.” Lauryn Hill’s funky “Little Drummer Boy” seems to be the only saving grace—until Rosie chimes in and ruins it.


Released in 1989, at the height of NKOTB’s fame, this holiday record sold two million copies. You have to at least give the boy band props for writing a few original songs such as the sappy “This One’s for the Children”—which was a top 10 hit—and “Funky, Funky, Xmas,” which tries a bit too hard to emulate “Christmas in Hollis.” *NSYNC and Hanson also released Christmas records, so having boy bands release holiday albums is not an anomaly; the fact that NKOTB took the material so seriously is what makes it an oddity.


The heavy metal lover never released a full Christmas album, but he did release the EP, A Heavy Metal Christmas, in 2012, containing metal covers of “The Little Drummer Boy” and “Silent Night.” The following year the prince of darkness released A Heavy Metal Christmas Too, including the song “Jingle Hell.” Last year he contributed “Darkest Carols, Faithful Sing," which would sadly be his last metal Christmas song, as he passed away in June 2015 at the age of 93.


First we had Jingle Cats, which was annoying but somewhat cute. Then the same guy behind Jingle Cats and Jingle Dogs released Jingle Babies in 1997, which is baby sounds edited together into super annoying “songs.” The babies aren’t singing as much as they are cooing and whining through “Jingle Bells,” “Up on the Housetop,” and “Carol of the Bells.” The album’s tagline reads “Real babies sing holiday classics,” but it’s unknown if real babies approve.


Disco was huge in the 1970s, and apparently so were disco Christmas albums. Mirror Image released at least two Christmas records: Yuletide Disco and Disco Noel. The former features saxophone-enhanced versions of “Good King Wenceslas” and “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” and aren’t as disco-y as you’d hope. Then there’s "Dear Santa, Let’s Disco" by Snowflake, which should get the holiday festivities started. While you’re at it, you might as well listen to “Disco Duck.”


The Miami rap group 2 Live Crew created a lot of controversy in the 1990s, so why not add fuel to the fire with a Christmas record? Throughout the 1994 album, MC Luther Campbell raps untraditional Christmas songs, such as “Ho Ho Hoes,” “2 Live Christmas, “Christmas Spliff,” and “Christmas F---in’ Day,” which sounds a lot like “Gin and Juice.” Campbell went legit and now writes for the Miami New Times.


The friends sang together in Grease and the guilty pleasure film Two of a Kind, and one morning in 2012 they woke up and decided that, because it had been 30 years since they had worked together, it was time to put out a Christmas album. The couple duet on the standards “Baby It’s Cold Outside” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” featuring Barbra Streisand. But Travolta can’t sing, and the album cover is just plain scary.


parody Christmas record, from a Grammy-nominated rapper? Yup. In 2006, Afroman took a debauched look at Christmas with songs named “Deck My Balls” and other titles we shouldn’t repeat, plus the new classic “O Chronic Tree”: “O Chronic tree, oh chronic, I want you all for me.”


In 2011, the late Stone Temple Pilots frontman released this bizarre album. The fact that he released a traditional Christmas album isn’t even the weirdest part though; it’s that he, for some reason, infused reggae and steel drum on “Oh Holy Night” and croons through the rest of the record. Listening to the songs, you wouldn’t know it was from a former grunge singer.