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RKYV Holiday Edition

RKYV Holiday Edition

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Published by Randy Paré
Featured [& cover] Artist: Kassandra Heller
Cover design by r. j. paré
Featured [& cover] Artist: Kassandra Heller
Cover design by r. j. paré

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Published by: Randy Paré on Dec 21, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Table of Contents

RKYV Holiday Edition {Dec. 2010} RKYV ONLINE LOGO – David Marshall {current} Roy G. James {original} Virtual Cover - Art by Kassandra Heller - Layout by r. j. paré Featured Artist Review - “Kassandra Heller” - By r. j. paré World View - “A Canadian Living in the USA” - By Tom Rossini Family Life: “The Return of the Prodigal Columnists” - “Christmas is Coming…” by Leanne Bechard Short Fiction - “My Holiday Judgement” - by Darke Raven Poetry - By Wanda VanHoy Smith, Stephen Campbell Pop Culture - “Manga Maximus” - By Darke Raven - “Raised on Saturday Morning Cartoons” - By Pauline Paré

Interior Art - By Mike Grattan, James ‘Jig-One’ Titman, Larissa Gula, Stan Nelson, - “Yummy Yuletide Treats” by Naomi Randolph, r. j. paré, Tom Murdoch aka Christina Marchetti Nesbitt, Nik Powliko, Kassandra Heller Syndicated Comic Strip Review Editorial Column - “Bob and Doug McKenzie - the - “At the Outset: A Few Thoughts Comic Strip” from the Editor” - By Nik Poliwko & Tom Nesbitt - By r. j. paré

Actually, read this month’s Syndicated Comic Review for more of “Bob and Doug McKenzie - the Comic Strip” – by Nik Poliwko & Tom Nesbitt

At the Outset
A few thoughts from The Editor…
by r. j. paré
We are the ones who make a brighter day So let's start giving... We Are The World, USA for Africa

Merry Christmas everyone and welcome to our first ever Special Holiday Issue! During this season, many, if not most of us, celebrate some sort of Holiday – be it faith-based, cultural or secular. It is a time for us to make that little extra effort in order to show our loved ones that we care. I was raised Catholic [and French Catholic, to boot] my family observes Christmas at this time of year. Christmas – noun 1. The annual festival of the Christian church commemorating the birth of Jesus: celebrated on December 25 and now generally observed as a legal holiday and an occasion for exchanging gifts. It's Christmas time, there's no need to be afraid At Christmas time, we let in light and we banish shade And in our world of plenty, we can spread a smile of joy! Throw your arms around the world at Christmas time Do They Know it's Christmas? – Band Aid In fact, my daughters [the little darlings] get to enjoy multiple traditions around Casa Paré this time of year. My wife’s family is Dutch and she grew up with the tradition of Kris Kringle and the 12 days of Christmas. So Genevieve & Chantel leave their slippers outside their bedroom doors for the 12 nights leading up to Christmas and each morning they discover that “Kris Kringle” has left them a surprise [usually a small gift = to a “stocking-stuffer”]. It gets them so excited for the big day that by the time Christmas comes they are bouncing off the walls [the sugar high of Holiday treats might have something to do with it as well]. I hope whatever holiday your family celebrates that it is filled with joy and giving.

Not that there is anything wrong with that…
As I mentioned earlier, living in such a multi-cultural society, we are aware of a wide variety of holidays and traditions that take place at this time of year. Wish your Jewish friends a Happy Hanukkah. Or maybe you know folks who honour universal African heritage and culture, by observing Kwanzaa, and they’ve invited you to celebrate with them. Go for it! Eat, drink and be Merry! Embrace the uniqueness of our individual traditions and share in the wonderful diversity of it all. Heck some folks who, in the past, had not been observing any particular holiday tradition - have now taken to observing one that they learned of through a favourite television show. Festivus – noun Festivus is a secular holiday celebrated on December 23. It was created by writer Dan O'Keefe and introduced into popular culture by his son Daniel, a screenwriter for the TV show Seinfeld, as part of a comical storyline on the show. Celebrants of the holiday sometimes refer to it as “Festivus for the rest of us,” a saying taken from the O'Keefe family traditions and popularized in the Seinfeld episode to describe Festivus as another way to celebrate the holiday season without participating in its pressures and commercialism. The name "Festivus" has also begun to be used as a general term for any type of December party not affiliated with the season's other events. The point being that this is a season to spread good will and cheer, regardless of our differences. There is no reason to be competitive, or have conflict, with the new, old or varied traditions your family, friends & neighbours choose to observe. It’s all good… Speaking of good, goodies and all things shiny and bright… this Holiday Special is chock full of heart warming surprises just waiting for you to unwrap:

Holiday Tree – by r. j. paré

Columnists & writers, past & present, have chipped in with some wonderful reviews, poems, recipes and Holiday Wishes. I thank each and every one of them [credited throughout] for taking a moment out of their mad shopping schedules to pen some words for this edition. When I posted the message that I was considering publishing a Holiday Special on short notice amazing art clips from our talented contributors came pouring in. I thank them all for sharing their work with us. Kassandra Heller gladly met my impossible deadline sending files of beautiful art for me to use and revealing a little bit about herself and her work in a brief interview for our Featured Artist Review. Frankly, I consider it practically a Holiday Miracle that everyone was able to chip in and make this Special happen on such short notice.

And the boys from the NYPD choir were singing Galway Bay And the bells were ringing out for Christmas Day. Fairytale Of New York, Pogues

Best Wishes to all of you this Holiday Season… r. j. paré

Surveillance Report: RE: Naughty & Nice urgent update. by SSE Winky Special Supervisory Elf Winky hereby affirms that the behaviour of subject Paré is not – repeat NOT worthy of consideration for naughty status at this time. Despite missing many deadlines over the course of this last year he has testified that he “really, really didn’t mean to,” and that in the future he would “try his best to be on time.” It is our judgement that this individual does not merit coal in his stocking at this time. P.S. – Santa, I promise, the guy’s “Nice” material. My judgement is sound on these matters and cannot be fooled, influenced or manipulated even by milk and cookies [although… his beautiful wife was kind enough to make those tasty little sugar cookies I like and even had my favourite brand of low-fat milk, yummy, yum, yum..].

frosty – by r. j. paré

outside of Phipps Conservatory – by Larissa Gula

World View
A Canadian, Living in the USA
by Tom Rossini

A History of Christmas
I am sitting down on the couch as I type this and
looking around at the various Christmas decorations that blanket my house. We have the three Christmas trees, holiday garland adorning the banister railings and many other knick knacks and crafts on the shelves, mantles and tables. On top of that my house is lit up like a Christmas tree itself, with numerous flood lights, LED lights and CFL socket lights in the lamps. As I look at the various decorations I see some reflecting the birth of Jesus Christ, while others reflect the season of holiday cheer and other commercial influences. This has made me wonder, “How did Christmas have its origins?” Is this a religious holiday, a holiday based on other circumstances, or a holiday related to commercial influences? – by Josh Bowe I discovered that 2500 years before the birth of Jesus researchers have found proof that people, in the old world, celebrated the Winter Solstice [recognizing and observing the longest night and the shortest day of the year as well as a hope that spring was soon approaching]. The Roman Saturnalia was celebrated with lights, charity, and greenery while the Germans celebrated with feasts and Yule Logs.

Now there are many more variations to this holiday season than what one can write about in one column [as our dear editor has put a time crunch on this article] and so I suggest that you take some time and search the internet for the origins of Christmas and you may be surprised at the literature out there. There are articles out there to explain why Dec 25th is the chosen day vs Dec 21st. There are articles explaining the birth of Jesus and why the Catholic Church decided on Dec 25th as well. Digging a little deeper you can also find out how other traditions started like the various decorations and symbols, why certain music / carols were written, why certain food became the staple of the holiday season as well as the origins of gift giving. Of interest for me personally, is Sinterklaa or Saint Nicholas. and why he is considered by many to be the original Santa Claus. The following excerpt is from Wikipedia The most famous and pervasive of these figures in modern celebration worldwide is Santa Claus, a mythical gift bringer, dressed in red, whose origins have diverse sources. The name Santa Claus can be traced back to the Dutch Sinterklaas, which means simply Saint Nicholas. Nicholas was Bishop of Myra, in modern day Turkey, during the 4th century. Among other saintly attributes, he was noted for the care of Children, generosity, and the giving of gifts. His feast on the 6th of December came to be celebrated in many countries with the giving of gifts. Saint Nicholas traditionally appeared in bishop's attire, accompanied by helpers, inquiring about the behaviour of children during the past year before deciding whether they deserved a gift or not. By the 13th century, Saint Nicholas was well known in the Netherlands, and the practice of gift-giving in his name spread to other parts of Central and Southern Europe. After the Reformation in 16th–17th century Europe, many Protestants changed the gift bringer to the Christ Child or Christkindl, corrupted in English to Kris Kringle, and the date of giving gifts changed from December the 6th to Christmas Eve. The one thing I have realized after reading many articles is that the holiday season, over all, is a season of giving, feasts, family and faith. I wish each and everyone a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Tom

< Kris Kringle – by r. j. paré

Family Life
The Return of the Prodigal Columnists
Editors Note: For this Special Issue a couple of long-lost former Columnists and [in Murdoch’s case] providers of wonderful recipes and cooking tips… return! Nurses by profession, both Leanne & Christina took turns a couple years ago providing RKYV readers with some sage Health advice and it is our pleasure to welcome them back to the pages of RKYV ONLINE.

Christmas is Coming…
by Leanne Bechard
Glowing Christmas Tree – by r. j. paré It was the day after Hallowe'en, and I decided a trip to Canadian Tire was in order; toilet paper must have been on sale. When I walked into the store, the customer service representatives were in the process of putting up a 12 foot Christmas tree, laden with lights of every colour, stars and strands of tinsel were strewn from the top to the bottom of this tree, all before 10am. There was an inflatable Santa, already perched by the front door, with a sign attached saying "Christmas is coming... check out our selection of Holiday Decor!" I hadn't sorted out Hallowe'en candy yet, let alone, acknowledge Christmas was quickly approaching. My email box, as of late, contains Holiday Greetings of every sort, from E-cards, to interactive videos my children are completely amazed at. Their wish lists are ridiculously huge and not cohesive with my budget restraints. My son thinks that an iPpod Touch is in order, he's 13. My daughters 11 and 6, sat down with the dreaded "Wish Book" (provided yearly by Sears), and wrote at least a hundred of their top picks for Santa, aka MOM.

I have always taken pride in reminding my family what the real meaning of Christmas is… the art of giving and being thankful for the happiness you bring to someone else. To all who are reading this, remind your families, friends and perhaps the occasional stranger, the real meaning of Christmas. If you know anyone who is alone this Holiday season, make a point to call, or drop in with some cookies. If you know a single parent in your neighbourhood, offer to shovel the snow for them, I can guarantee that would make their day (it did for me). A simple smile, holding the door for someone with their hands full, or donating to local food bank makes a world of difference. My wish to all of you, cherish your loved ones always. Make a point to share something wonderful, even when you don't really feel like it – you will bring happiness to someone, I promise. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,\ Leanne Bechard Special Contributor, RKYV Online

Sunday Girl – by Mike Grattan

Yummy Yuletide Treats
by Murdoch aka Christina Marchetti

Seasoned Greetings everybody…
I hope you enjoy some of my favourite holiday recipes here. You will notice that they are all sweets and that is because I work every Christmas – so we order out for Chinese and then go tobogganing (I think I spelled that right, really, I am educated!!) afterwards. I hope you enjoy these sweet treats as much as my family and friends do. Have a great New Year. Tina

Butter Tarts
2 eggs 2 cups brown sugar ½ cup butter melted 1 tbsp vinegar 1 tsp vanilla Raisins, nuts or other fillers Combine all ingredients and fill 3” tart shells. Bake at 425 for 10 minutes and the 350 until set. An elderly neighbour gave this recipe to me when I was in grade school. She has since passed, but this recipe has stuck around with me ever since. It has been to Texas and back with me and I never misplace it. It is an all time holiday favourite of mine and many of my friends. Feel free to use any kind of filler that you want and almost as much as you want. I prefer a meatier tart, not as much of the syrup thing going on so i add quite a few raisins and nuts.

Chocolate Cherry Hazelnut Fudge
Cook hazelnuts until toasted. Line 8” square baking pan with waxed paper. Melt choc chips with 1 can milk. Melt white chocolate with other can milk. Fold nuts into dark choc and cherries into white choc. Alternately spoon into pan and swirl with knife. Refrigerate x 8 hours. ½ cup chopped hazelnuts 12 oz pkgs of semisweet chocolate chip cookies 2 14 oz cans of sweetened condensed milk 2 12oz pkgs of white chocolate chips (3cups) ¼ cup chopped red candied cherries If you don't have hazel nuts and cherries, you can use dry cranberries (unsweetened if you can find them or you end up with super sweet fudge) and almonds. I don't remember where I got this recipe from but it is a well used one.

Rum Balls
2 cups of graham cracker crumbs. 1/2 cup of cocoa 1 cup of finely chopped nuts. 1 cup icing sugar. Blend well then add 1/2 cup butter melted and 1/2 cup of rum. Mix together and roll into small balls. I like to dip mine in chocolate. It is a running joke around here about the lack of rum most days because I use it in my rum cakes. However, Jack Daniels works really well for this recipe and it is amazing what jack's balls taste like!!!!

This recipe is from Ruth Sharon’s cook book. She is a local published cook book author and has some simple and amazing recipes for everyday use. I do believe i have all of her books, and they were well worth the purchase. The name of this book is Good home Cooking I.

Always looking for the ultimate Chocolate chip and Oatmeal cookie recipe, I do believe I found it in
the next two. My husband's editor bought this cookbook for me a couple of years ago called the Chocolate Snowball and all I can say is OMG!!! Definitely splurge and use butter in these recipes. They have got to be the richest cookies I have ever made. That being said, they are supposed to be huge cookies (1/3 cup dough per cookie) which only gives you a dozen cookies, so I scoop dough by the tablespoon and get about 4 dozen really good sized cookies.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
3 cups flour 1 tsp baking soda 1 tsp salt 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips Preheat oven to 325. Cream first five ingredients. Sift next three and then add to cream mixture. Add chocolate chips. Place dough by the spoon full on baking sheets and cook for 20 - 25 minutes. Cookies will be flat and expand quite a bit.

1/2 pound of unsalted softened butter 1 cup sugar 3/4 cup of packed brown sugar 2 eggs 1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract.

Oatmeal Cookies
1/2 lb of butter 1 cup sugar 3/4 cup brown sugar firmly packed 2 eggs 2 cups flour 1 tsp baking soda 1 tsp salt 1 tsp cinnamon 1 3/4 cups of rolled oats 1 cup dark raisins (I always plump and then well drain my raisins before using them)

Cream first four ingredients. Sift next four ingredients together and then add to creamed mixture. Add oats and raisins. Cook as above. Note: For both these recipes, if you live at high altitudes, please reduce white sugar to 3/4 cup.

Now I don't know about you folks, but I am an unbelievable fan of minced meat, preferably without
suet thank you. I like to get mine from the Bulk barn, but there are some pretty good jarred varieties on the shelf of your local grocer if you don't have a BB near by.

Minced Meat Cookies
1/2 tsp salt 1 1/3 cups minced meat. Cream first 3 ingredients. Sift next three and add to creamed mix. Then add minced meat and mix well. Drop by spoon full on greased cookie sheet about two inches apart and cook at 375 for 8 to 10 minutes. This recipe came from a Mrs. Fran Bakke, from the Harrowsmith Volume 3 cookbook.

1 cup butter 11/2 cups sugar 3 eggs 3 cups flour 1 tsp baking soda

Note: I am also a big fan of parchment paper which I line all my cookie sheets with.
up so much easier and no extra calories are added.

It makes clean

I am going to sign off now.
Have to get some sleep before I go to work tonight. Remember to eat well, play hard, sleep well and stay safe. Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Tina

Amelia – by James ‘Jig-One’ Titman

– by Naomi Randolph: Coal is a crime! Wouldn't it be great if we could all do this when we got something we didn't want.

Syndicated Comic Strip Review
Bob and Doug McKenzie - the Comic Strip
by Nik Poliwko & Tom Nesbitt
[article by Nik]

Back in the early 80's, my good friend Tom Nesbitt and I were listening to the Bob & Doug McKenzie comedy
album featuring Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis (based on their "Great White North" segment from the hit TV series SCTV).

It hit us that "Bob & Doug" would work great as a comic-strip! We created a package featuring six daily strips as well as a concept for a book and sent it off to Quality Records (the producers of their album), who in turn forwarded our material to Dave and Rick! I think it was a Sunday morning when Dave Thomas called and said he loved our work! They had gotten other proposals, but felt that Tom and I captured the Bob & Doug characters better than any other they had seen. Contracts were worked out and we were on our way to doing a daily comic strip which would be distributed by Worldwide Features Syndicate, a division of the Toronto Sun newspaper.

Editor’s Note: Tune in over next few issues as we serialize Nik’s article and show off some more of his and Tom’s work on Bob & Doug – leading into Nik’s featured artist appearance in RKYV # 45!

Featured Artist Review
Kassandra Heller
by r. j. paré Intro: Kassandra is an artist living in Los
Angeles. She graduated from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, MI. Ms. Heller is married to the artist Chris Houghton who also draws comic books [yea! I always got give it up for my comic book peeps]. And she adds, “My favorite candy is Charleston Chews.”

“An Apple a Day” Digital/Adobe Illustrator 2010

r.j.p: Have you always known that you wanted to be or, rather, were an artist? KH: Yup, I never had any doubts. Even when I was really little, I’ve just always drawn. r.j.p: Did you study or major in art while in school? KH: Yes. I graduated from the College for Creative Studies majoring in Illustration. r.j.p: Who was your primary source of encouragement, as a child, in pursuing art?

KH: It really helped to have a family that always believed in me and my love for art. I decided at a very young age that I wanted to be an artist and I never doubted that dream. Not to discredit my Mom in anyway, but my Dad really got me interested in cartoons and comic strips. He always had such an appreciation for them. He knew why they were funny and never discredited them for being goofy or “for kids.” We always watched cartoons together like Popeye and Ren and Stimpy, as well as read comic strips like Calvin and Hobbes.

“Music Man” Digital/Adobe Illustrator 2010

r.j.p: What is your favorite media to work with? KH: I love to work digitally, especially in Adobe Illustrator or Flash. Traditionally, I like to use color pencils and oil pastels. r.j.p: Do you use any special tools and techniques to create your art? KH: Not really. I usually work on the shapes and designs for the illustration in my sketchbook first. Then, I scan those drawings in and clean them up and color them on the computer.

“Sketchbook Page: Feathers” Ink 2010

r.j.p: What inspires you to create art? KH: Within daily life, I’m constantly looking for inspiration. Whether I’m on the bus or watching TV, there are so many characters and interesting activities going around everyone all the time. My husband is also an artist as well as most of my friends so I’m constantly surrounded by creativity. That helps fuel and motivate me as well as provides me with a constant group of artists to go to in order to show my work.

“Alex” Digital/Adobe Illustrator 2010

r.j.p: How would you categorize your artistic style? KH: Somewhere in-between Mary Blair/Jim Flora and the more modern Nickelodeon-style animation? It’s hard to narrow it down exactly. I’m inspired by so many artists from different parts of the world and different periods in history. r.j.p: Would you say that there is a "message" or "unifying theme" in your work? KH: I don’t try to maintain a theme or message in my artwork really. I want each illustration to speak for itself. Although I do draw a lot of happy or cute things.

“Lions” Digital 2010

r.j.p: Which famous artists / creators or styles have influenced you? Why? KH: There’s so many, it’s hard to try and narrow it down! Pascal Campion, Lorelay Bove, Guy Davis, Jongmee Kim, Bob Flynn, Sergio Aragones, Chris Battle, Mary Blair, Brigette Brigade, Katie Rice, Brittney Lee, and a lot of the fellow girls from GirlsDrawinGirls.

“So Dangerous” Color Pencil 8x11 2010

r.j.p: Would you rather have an engaged & loyal but, ultimately, small Indie readership or work on the latest Spidey, Wolverine or X - book? [the old Art vs Commerce question] KH: Ah I’d go with the small indie readership anytime! I think there will always be room in the market for creator-owned properties. P.S. I love the comic book series, Reed Gunther. r.j.p: With advancements in computer graphic tablet technology, some artists are now creating their work directly in the digital medium and releasing it in purely digital formats... are the days of paper & pulp doomed to the realm of fading memories? KH: No way! I still do a lot of work with Prisma Color Pencils on Canson paper. I do this kind of work for galleries and commissions [Two areas that thrive on tangible original art]. I think there will always be a demand for original art.

“Girl on an Adventure” color pencil 8x11 2010

“Heidi Sings a Song” Color Pencil, 8 x 11, 2009 r.j.p: What do you think of the term "starving artist"? KH: I think it can mean different things to different people. If you’re a “starving artist” it’s hopefully because you know how valuable your skills are and are holding out for a position that you’ll enjoy and thrive at instead of settling for a job that just covers your expenses for a while.. Not that that’s a bad idea. ;) r.j.p: Do you feel more a sense of community with other artists or a sense of competition? KH: I feel a sense of community. Especially with so many artists online with blogs, Twitter, Flickr, etc. it’s easier to reach out to artists for help or inspiration. r.j.p: How do you market yourself? KH: I update my blog about every week to keep an online presence as well as set-up booths at comic-cons. I participate in gallery shows and am an active member of GirlsDrawinGirls.

r.j.p: Do you find it difficult to stay motivated / inspired? KH: Not really. I try to mix things up when I’m feeling uninspired in order to keep things interesting. It helps to draw in my sketchbook a lot. Drawing in public, you never know what you might see that might help inspire a new piece. I just wish there was more time in the day.

“My Monster” Digital 2010

r.j.p: This wonderfully whimsical piece seemed almost tailor made for adapting as this month’s cover and it was beaucoup fun to do.

r.j.p: While traditional publishing and distribution has become a difficult goal to achieve for the modern Indie comic creator, what do you think of the impact that social networks and POD services have had as an alternate means of connecting you, your work and your audience? KH: I think POD services are great. I haven’t used them for comics but more so for leave-behinds and portfolios. I think it’s great that anyone can now get their work printed, even if it’s just for a small audience. It’s so much easier than what it used to be.

“Little Miss Octo-Princess” Digital/Adobe Illustrator 2010

r.j.p: What other interests do you have, besides art? KH: I always love taking a break to play video games or watch a movie. I go to the library a lot too, which is fun. I love cats and currently my husband, Chris and I are looking to adopt one.

r.j.p: What advice would you have for a young artist starting out today? KH: Don’t get discouraged! Keep creating new work and looking at successful artists working today. Try to maintain a regular work/sleep schedule. That’s what I’m trying to do anyhow. I’m a young artist myself! r.j.p: Do you have any big plans, shows or Cons coming up? KH: Nothing specific just yet but this Summer I’m sure I’ll be hitting up a few conventions. I’ve always got new projects in the works and the best way for people to keep up on what I’m doing is to follow my blog at http://kass204.blogspot.com r.j.p: How would you like your art, and by extension yourself, to be remembered? KH: Hmmm…. Ask me again in 60 years.

www.Kass204.blogspot.com http://kass204.deviantart.com/ http://www.flickr.com/people/kassandraheller/

“HEY There, Hot Shot!” Digital/Adobe Illustrator 2010 I would like to thank Kassandra for participating as our featured artist. Her delightful illustrations, combine influences from the fields of animation, sketch and fine arts in a fashion that is simply a pleasure to behold. Merci, Madame Heller. r. j. paré

– by Josh Bowe

Short Fiction
My Holiday Judgment
By Darke Raven
[Accompanying images are from
Roger Price’s Tattoo Art. You can e-mail Roger: moleman00x@hotmail.com or facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=629478508 ]

The door shook and shook under the repeated pounding of the person standing outside, prompting
a slow irritated groan from Rumplestiltskin as he climbed the stairs to his front door, a look of disbelief on his face. At first the door merely gave off it's usual chime denoting a visitor, but the chime soon rang again and again followed by tapping, then a constant rapping, which turned into a loud banging that has not ceased for a whole minute. Who would be coming to visit at near midnight it was not clear, but since the Security Crystal by the door was still glowing it's soft green it was not an overtly violent or disturbed individual despite the fact the person pounded almost relentlessly on the door now, add to that the fact the room was in the center of a large castle surrounded by a large group of highly trained guards who also could distinct between normal and hostile visitors, even if they allowed someone to visit at such a late hour. As he reached the door, opening it, he called out “Merry Christmas!” in as jovial a voice as possible, the door opening to reveal his visitor, “How may I he-- OH NO!!” With a quick gasp he quickly tried to shut the door again, only to be stopped as a black clad arm quickly shot through the opening stopping him from completely closing the door. “Ouch.” Keiko Yamanaka, the 7th Judgment muttered as she managed to hold the door open with her arm. No doubt the short haired Asian woman of fair height (taller of course than the shorter in stature Rumplestiltskin) was already frowning at her situation as she tried to coax her way in with her usual ‘charm’. “Do you mind? This isn't doing you a bit of good with your court required mandatory check in.”

“What the hell!” he cried out, flinging the door open allowing Yamanaka and her white clad partner (the taller, long blonde haired Spell Thrasher, Eve) to enter. “Why do you insist on checking up on me every holiday? And can't you ever dress in a festive manner this time of year? Something with more green and reds in it or perha-- gcckk...” “I don't know,” Keiko retorted, rubbing her arm she used as a door stop as she entered, her free hand presently choking the one she came to see. “The whole baby snatching racket you ran and was convicted over a few years ago probably has something to do with it.” “That was years ago, and as you can see I have no babes in my abode.” He complained, once Eve convinced Keiko to let him go. “Honey? Who is it? When are you coming back to bed?” Silence reigned for a few seconds. “At least none of the newly born variety at any rate.” A quick check of the bedroom guest and they were gone in a few minutes, however... “That wasn't fast enough in my opinion.” Keiko growled in a manner most unpleasant, gnawing on her corndog as the two walked along the boardwalk observing the stores still open for last minute Christmas shoppers. Yes, even in the Realm of Dreams the denizens of the dreaming landscape observed holidays mostly associated with the passage of time in the waking world, one of their favorites of course being the celebration of Christmas (observed once a year in the realm, daily in the Innocence Zones and pocket realm valleys that were Christmas themed). “I don't know what's worst, finding out Stiltskin is getting some or that it's the princess he was working with the gold spinning con the last time we ran into him some months ago... you remember that one, don't you?” “It was during our anniversary as I remember it...” Eve noted, “And you really don't forget running into your first dead prince in the middle of a roadway.” “Yeah I still remember that too.” Keiko sighed, “Ah the memories...” (beep beep beep beep) “...speaking of which when will they remember that it's the holidays and even we deserve time off?” (snaps open her cell phone and looks at the message) “Hmmm... hmmm...” "What is it?" Keiko, with a rather confused expression, holds up the phone showing it to Eve. "You are not going to believe this." * ** * **

The mission was short, yet still totally unsatisfactory. All Eve could say to console her partner was "We can go back to our Christmas now... really... we'll be back at the hotel shortly and we'll finish trimming the tree and then we'll watch vids and do other more mature adult oriented stuff, OK?" Keiko sighed, shaking off the morose mood she was in as they stepped up on the shuttle platform, taking a seat waiting for the next shuttle back to the big city. "Look, where are we?" Eve sighed, and knew what Keiko was fixated on. "Whoville. The home of the Who, and every who big and small loved Christmas a lot, except the Grinch who lived near Whoville..." "But that was last year, and he was the most shocked of the people who assembled when you declared him the culprit of Christmas and tried to organize a lynch mob to storm his place." Silence. "So I was a year off." Keiko finally relented, "What's the crime in that!" "They were serious about banning you from Whoville for a year weren't they, especially when you strung the mayor up the town Christmas tree like a pinata." "It's their fault for keeping the village idiot as mayor..." (suddenly Keiko stops as she notes Eve's smiling face) "What? Did I say something wrong? Right? Is there still whipped cream egg nog on my face?" "No, no, and no... though I admit licking it off your face in front of everyone and getting that shocked reaction was a joy unto itself..." Eve sighs, pointing above them, "Mistletoe." And that was all that was needed to be said, as Keiko leaned forward and kisses her beloved deeply, holding the kiss for a minute as they embraced under the mistletoe. Finally, as the next shuttle landed, she released Eve and said "I was particularly fond of the moment when you shot whipped cream in your mouth and invited me for a taste. That was priceless." "I knew you’d approve." she said, smiling as she led Keiko onto the shuttle.


Selected Poems
by Wanda VanHoy Smith

Her Christmas tree has a hangover. After a week of celebration Douglas Fir is ready to roll over in the gutter like a drunken sailor at the end of leave. At first it was fun being admired and decorated while they sang Joy to the World and Peace on Earth along with the carols from an album recorded at the White House… Almost worth giving up his life on the tree farm. The ornaments she hung on his limbs were beautiful but grew heavy and its time to pack them away for another year. He sheds needle tears as she carefully lifts the antique ornaments and tells her granddaughter where they came from as she wraps them in tissue paper' . “These spun glass birds are over a hundred years old They came from the black forest in Germany and hung on the tree of your Grandmother 's mother. before the great World War I that was supposed to be the war that ends all wars.” She removes glass bells and angels saying, “ these ornaments came from Occupied Japan after WWII and this string of lights from West Germany before the wall came down.” She plays a CD of Willie Nelson singing his song “What Ever Happened to Peace on Earth” and drags the weeping tree to the curb. Herald – by r. j. paré

She didn't mind paying seventy dollars for her fresh Christmas tree. Her children are all grown and this may be the last tree she decorates. Long after farmer poet Frost refused to sell his hill of greenery to a city profiteer for three cents a tree there are tree farms. The Douglas fir she decorates grown on a plantation reminds her of her childhood. Old Tannenbaum has become a green industry. Unlike the ones her father cut from land of a farmer neighbor who had such a thick forest he didn't even notice when one was gone. The last time someone tried a tree theft he was met by a gun and a warning. The farmer's son knows about global warming.

Bright & shiny memories... – by r. j. paré

Her tree holds her Mother's antique birds from Germany blown glass bells, horns and drums from down the years A Hallmark of a life wrapped in tissue paper appears. A Norman Rockwell family shining on a glass ball that celebrates “Our First Christmas”

On another a Teddy Bear bears the message, “Baby's first Christmas.” She and the ornaments have survived seasons of wars fire and death

Her son hangs a starship on a branch and she remarks, “It's a beautiful tree. I think we will have a joyful time.” He replies. “We always do.”

On New Years day her son watches as she un-trims and frees the tree of her life. “This may very well be my last tree.” She states. “Don't say that” he puts an arm around her.

She pulls off a strip of tinsel and say, “The middle of next December I plan to take a Christmas cruise on the Loveboat.” He hugs her, “That’s great. Will you take us all along?”

Selected Poems
by Stephen Campbell

Beauty Seen from Balconies
Sitting on Balconies Easing anxieties, We sip and savour our time. Reading and listening, The sun reflected glistening Off your eyes and their immortal shine. We talked both of poetry That great old incendiary Verses that fashioned our clime. Looking down at below Heaven reveals how slow The art of a time long declined Is assailed by dull men. Undermined. But never mind what beauty can be shown on page, Such things cannot speak for our greatest age, This is my age and yours, yet we look back Or are led by men and their subtle tact. Let you and I stay here above this world. Let us not care for deceptive words. Let us revel in loves high balcony, The lasting home of our own perfect matrimony.

Failed Crop
Potatoes rife with blight are spoilt, A death now bites and strikes the land, The poor lie dead, a child lies killed, A child who never learnt to stand With feet made strong on food aplenty, Sent to far off fields to feed The rich. The mouths of fattened gentry Say, “Get ye wretch, alight with greed And hungry eyed, take thy flight From door of mine, I little care. Go diminish into the night And take away your tale of despair.

Kasabian, for his daughter, Laura, on her birthday – by Mike Grattan>

– by Josh Bowe

Pop Culture
Manga Maximus
by Darke Raven
This Holiday Experiment:

Azumanga Daioh Volume 1 to 4
By Kiyohiko Azuma
Originally Published by ADVManga, Republished by Yen Press

It's the end of the year, and that means Christmas. This year, for this year's Holiday Special, I decided to review a title I recommend often as a great gift to give to the new fan of Manga, Azumanga Daioh. The quintessential school comedy drama, and called by some the "Seinfeld" of Anime/Manga, Azumanga Daioh just celebrated it's 10th Anniversary of the manga's first publishing, and is one of the most recommended mangas out there today. The best of the best. Originally published in English by ADVManga, it was eventually picked up by Yen Press and republished by them... and probably for good reason as you'll see though my review of the Yen Press version of the title is coming up... in 2011. Take a sit, because you're about to be told a tale of the class of one Yukari Tanizaki, three years of a group of eccentric wacky yet totally lovable girls whose tales are well known, personalities familiar and names are iconic. Besides the totally off the wall Yukari (a teacher of the English language, whose jokes only make sense here and in the Japanese language version of the Anime) and her childhood friend slash school rival fellow teacher Minamo (Nyamo) Kurosawa, we have her class (Yukari's). There's child prodigy the young 10 year old Chiyo-chan (who later "reappears" as the character design for Azuma's next series, Yotsuba&! (aka Yotsuba and Everything, the ! being "everything"), her dog Mr. Tadakichi and the strange stuffed cat who Sakaki dreamed about during the first year and dubbed as Chiyo-chan's "dad"... though it may yet be proven that the strange alien cat might actually be the far out and strange Yotsuba's true father... hmm... Add onto that the athletic yet soft natured cat lover Sakaki (who is often troubled by her love of cats at it seems to be one sided until she meets the iriomote cat she names Maya), "rival" Kagura who starts the series off as a member of Nyamo's class only to join Yukari's class in Year 2. Childhood friends and odd couple the wildcat idiot Tomo and straight girl with diet problems Yomi. Secondary girl and seldom thought of as a part of the main cast Kaorin (who is swallowed up by her stalker teacher's class, the disturbingly pervy Mr. Kimura, and leaves Yukari's class in Year 3). And, of course, we can't talk Azumanga Daioh without the iconic Osaka (aka Ayumu Kasuga), and her many strange ways. The three years are filled with many misadventures and situations, from the set like the yearly sports fest (aka

field day), cultural festival (which actually doesn't occur in the Senior year, replaced in the story by the class senior trip to Okinawa where Sakaki meets Maya for the first time while on Iriomote Island), and the yearly pilgrimage to Chiyo-chan's summer house to incidentals like Christmas, Chiyo-chan's day and her birthdays, Sakaki's cat misadventures and much more. In total a long satisfying series of fun, humor mixed with abit of drama occupied by a small solid cast of lovable characters that will leave a very solid impression on you and be a sure fire hit for any fan of the school centric genre. Also this is the title that launched (in my opinion in any case) a new fascination with the four panel comic format that is getting quite a workout of late in manga, a format you usually would associate more with comic strips from the newspaper than Japanese manga per se. My review volumes I bought from ADV Manga's run, and the one problem with the run is that they kinda tweaked it dialogue wise here and there to try and suit an American audience, and while it is explained in better detail how the original went in the back it still is a bit changed from the original. Why is that important? Well if you're sitting on the fence about reinvesting in a fresh version of the four volumes from Yen Press after seeing how they put out Sunshine Sketch I am wondering if the Yen Press version of Azumanga Daioh might be more true to the original version than the ADV translation, making me kinda interested in picking it up for review and comparison... but that's for a future review coming soon. But for now, regardless of whether your reading the original ADV Manga version, the ADV Manga Omnibus collected coffee table edition, or the new Yen Press reprints this is a must have for the stockings of any well read or new to the genre manga reader. A 5 out of 5. Enjoy!

Wish List
Just so you know what to ask from Santa-san... or demand from Japan... in the coming months. My list of the top ten things Japan is presently holding out on, in no particular order other than the order I thought it up... Item - Professor Layton Anime Movie(s) You might have heard about it, the Anime movie so far put out for the Professor Layton series (and that there is either more coming or out now). Japan, just like Animal Crossing the Movie, and other things some of which made my list, have been sitting on their hands on this one. If you are a Professor Layton fan you should demand that this movie (and any other made in the future) get released here on this side of the world. Sidebar note, don't forget to also demand the prequel game trilogy of the series which is available now in Japan too.

Item - Nintendo 3DS I am not one for gimmicks but this is the next gen of DS, coming out in a few months in Japan, the 3DS. Yes, it implies that the DS is going 3D... sad since it should have gone more multimedia like the PSP, instead of slap on a pointless gimmick like 3D content. Still it's coming in Japan and if you're a DS fan and don't get horrendous stress headaches staring at 3D things... like me... you should demand this... oh, and speaking of things to demand here's the first game you demand for said 3DS.

Item - Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright (Nintendo 3DS) Amongst the first year's releases for the 3DS is a slated crossover between Professor Layton and Phoenix Wright which is supposed to be in development now... though considering it only just came to light just recently we might not actually see this until 2012 in Japan (maybe). Set in an alternate world of magic, both Professor Layton and Phoenix Wright find themselves joining forces with the Professor handling all investigations while Phoenix handles the courtroom work as they are set to handle "Witch Trials" and either defend the innocent witches or prosecute the guilty (your standard rhythm and roll for an Ace Attorney game). New to the Ace Attorney games but standard for the Professor Layton games is anime cut scenes, which means at long last they'll put a voice to Phoenix (probably the guy who did the voice for Spike from Cowboy Bebop and the negotiator in Big O here in the states for the English version), Maya and maybe even Mia if she pulls appearances. Sadly this game doesn't include Pearls as a cast member.

Item - Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Live Action DVD Set Well this is actually a few years old, and you probably already watched it subbed on Youtube, but this live action Sailor Moon series is the only thing Sailor Moon (past the live action stage shows of course) to never see official release on this side of the world. Downer? The series only covers the first year and was ended without even attempting to plumb Sailor Moon R, S or SS. Also the series replaces turning Mamoru (Tuxedo Mask) evil midway by turning fan favorite Ami (Sailor Merucry) evil, then keeping evil for way too many episodes, and don't get me started on the whole turning Luna (who is a stuffed plushie cat in this version) human so that she looks like Chibi-usa gimmick!. But still it completes that Sailor Moon collection so why not.

Item - Phoenix Wright the Anime Series Did you know Phoenix Wright had his own Anime? He did... only unlike the games (of which we last saw a spinoff for Miles Edgeworth) and the manga (only two to date though there's supposed to be one for the whip wielding female Von Karma) this one has been a Japan only thing. Obviously if your a fan of Phoenix Wright you'd want this in your collection. Go demand it come across to this side of the world.

Item - Free Demo Downloads for the Wii I don't know what it's like for XBox360 owners but I know I can pick up and try out free demo versions of stuff from the PlayStation Network for my PSP (and a PS3 if I had one). So where is this technology for the Wii? Apparently Nintendo is too money grubbing because they don't have that kind of thing fro Wii owners, the ability to sample and demo games for free. Everything from the WiiWare store costs money, with nary a free thing in sight except for a few token channels that serve so-so purpose or take up a few minutes of time apiece per use or per day (in the case of the voting channel for instance). Stop being so stingy, Nintendo, and give us some free downloads to... well... download.

Item - LEGO Batman 2 Did you like the original from Traveler's Tales? So why have we NOT been graced yet with a sequel? Come on, Traveler's Tales, while we're young (and work in new LEGOs like Spoiler (which was only unlockable in the character create mode when you beat 100% of the villain missions), the new short lived female Robin (which used to be Spoiler), who later became Batgirl III... well, I could go on and on about female LEGOs all day but you get the point. On this note also that you should be getting LEGO Harry Potter Years 5 to 7 in Summer 2011 (to coincide with the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2), LEGO Star Wars III The Clone Wars (first quarter 2011), LEGO Indiana Jones 3 (if they ever make a fifth Indiana Jones movie) and hopefully something new in 2011/2012.

Item - Earthsea Anime Movie The first directorial work of Hayao Miyazaki's son, his first foray into anime directing and becoming as great a legend as his father before him... still blocked from release on this side of the world because SyFy Channel still owns the rights to the series! Damn you SyFy! Either sell Disney the rights to Earthsea or cough up the dough and buy the rights to Earthsea from Disney and release it yourself! One or the other man, stop keeping us waiting!

Item - Kingdom Hearts 3 Enough with the prequel upon prequel! Kingdom Hearts 3 already, and I'd tell you what female characters I'd like to see as playable characters but I'd be stating the obvious. You know me too well, SquareEnix! MAKE THEM PLAYABLE!!

And finally... Item - Hidamari Sketch Hoshimittsu DVD Set Yes, you thought I forgot didn't you... I almost did. The third and probably final season of Hidamari Sketch, put it out on DVD already if it's not presently available now. At last the last two girls of the six arrive and the series wraps up. So, you know, if you enjoyed the first two seasons and the manga you should wrap up your collection with Hoshimittsu, the third and final season.

And that's it. Enjoy your holidays and remember to start planning your wish list ahead for 2011... I am. January, coming shortly, we look at Phoenix Wright the manga (both Volume 1 : Phoenix Wright and Volume 2 : Miles Edgeworth) Meanwhile in February it's Valentine's Day and we're looking up abit of love in the form of another classic iconic series, this time we take off the mask of love found when deception is set aside in the classic romantic comedy Kare Kano aka His and Her Circumstances. Stay tuned, and Merry Christmas

everyone (and Happy New Year).

Raised on Saturday Morning Cartoons
by Pauline Paré


As much as love some of the new Christmas specials such as “Shrek the Halls” and “Prep &
Landing: Secret Santa,” nothing compares to the classic TV holiday specials. Until this very day, Rankin and Bass charm us with “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” I am not sure why these shows with their outdated effects still fascinate children who are used to slick CGI effects. To this very day I still look forward to these specials each and every year. I am also unsure why very few modern specials stack up against these time-honored classics. Was it the endearing characters, the timeless stories or the warm fuzzy feeling you get when watching them? Our parents introduce us and we introduce these to our children. They have become just as much a part of Christmas as the turkey and the tree.

Rankin/Bass was also responsible for “Frosty the Snowman” and one sequel. Another classic holiday favorite is “The Grinch Who stole Christmas” by Cat in the Hat Studios. The newer movie version was okay but when “Glee” did an homage to the Grinch it was the classic half hour special to which they gave that honor. Another eagerly awaited special is “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. Originally sponsored by Coca Cola and featuring a spattering of product placements, the version we see is affected by a law forbidding advertising in children’s programming.

The special was put together on a shoestring budget and a nearly impossible deadline. Animator Bill Melendez was embarrassed by the production quality of the voice track but Charles Shultz refused to change it. Mr. Shultz saw in this special what we all see today; fun innocence and the true meaning of Christmas. “A Charlie Brown Christmas” is just perfect because of its sweet imperfections.

I do mourn the Rankin/Bass specials that are nearly never aired due to the removal of religion from Christmas in the media. “Nestor the Long Eared Donkey” delighted me the year it premiered and “The Little Drummer Boy” was a yearly Christmas tradition at one time. Both are available on DVD but rarely seen on television.

Why have studios stopped producing treasures like these? “Shrek the Halls” is a modern delight that combines the best of Dreamworks talents with a truly memorable special but many of the newer Christmas specials that are produced for children’s channels don’t have the charm and longevity of those from the 60’s and 70’s.

So I encourage you to find your inner misfit, defy the Burgermeister Meisterburger, stop being a green meanie and gather around a small sad Christmas tree to enjoy a yearly tradition that I hope will last another 50 years.

outside of Phipps Conservatory – by Larissa Gula

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