Sunday 18 February 2024



18 February: HAPPY PLUTO DAY! 

In ancient Greek mythology, Pluto (Greek: Πλούτων, Ploutōn) was the ruler of the underworld. In Greek cosmogony, Pluto was given charge of the underworld in a three-way split of sovereignty over the world with his brothers Zeus and Poseidon: Zeus ruling the sky and Poseidon being sovereign over the sea. Pluto's central narrative in myth is of his abducting Persephone (daughter of Zeus and Demeter) to be his wife and queen of his realm; a scenario that would inspire Walt Disney's 1934 'Silly Symphony', The Goddess of Spring.

On 18 February 1930, (94 years ago today) Clyde Tombaugh of the Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff, Arizona discovered a ninth planet in our Solar System and named it ‘Pluto’.
In May 1931, Mickey Mouse’s pet dog (previously known as ‘Rover’) was renamed ‘Pluto’ when he appeared in Walt Disney’s short cartoon, The Moose Hunt, likely inspired by the huge publicity surrounding the then recent discovery of the planet.
In 2006, the International Astronomical Union reclassified Pluto as a ‘Dwarf Planet’. Pluto’s ‘demotion’ caused considerable outrage. Pluto the Pup, however, was unconcerned! In 2023, NASA shared images captured by its spacecraft including a photograph of a glacier on Pluto’s surface, which was shaped like a heart. Others have seen the shape as a silhouette of the head of Mickey’s doggy pal seen in profile!

Wednesday 14 February 2024


It's Lent!  So, here's a little Easter book for the kids...

(Not quite a follow up to The Fall of Númenor – but, occasionally, I can still be unpredictable!)


A Short Note on the ART of LOVE

The brilliant American artist, J. C. Leyendecker (1874-1951), celebrated for his memorable poster and advertising illustrations, spent his career depicting idealized images of the sexes that were redolent of the spirit of the 1920s. That imagery, for his generation, served as archetypes of heterosexual masculinity and femininity. But while a nation adored his work – and sought to emulate the style and glamour of the Leyendecker men and women – the creator lived a closeted life common to so many gay men and women of that era.

Today, his work has undergone a process of homoerotic decoding and, on this Valentine's Day, I'm sharing three of his classic paintings: 'The Butterfly Couple' (1923) and its romantic usage as a magazine advertisement for Kuppheimer Good Clothes, and two covers for The Saturday Evening Post (March 1913 and 1934)...




Alongside these ladies and gents, I give you a re-imagined amalgamation of Leyendecker's craft (together with appropriate Evening Post lettering) made in 2010 by James Blah as a Valentine’s Day card for his boyfriend.


 As the Bard neatly observed:

"Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind,
And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind." 

A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act 1, scene 1 

Let's remember J. C. Leyendecker for his astonishing art while celebrating the fact that we live in a time when, for the benefit of all humanity, Cupid is increasingly – and thankfully – being "painted blind". 

Friday 2 February 2024


Today, the feast Candlemas, traditionally marks the 40th day of – and conclusion to – the Christmas-Epiphany season; but, maybe, it doesn't need to be... Charles Dickens certainly thought that was an option, as evidenced by Ebenezer Scrooge's declaration towards the end of in A Christmas Carol (1843):

“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year."


[Illustration: Roberto Innocenti, A Christmas Carol (1990)]

Thursday 1 February 2024



Yes, I admit it: I am a Disney-geek. And, yes, I love Disney's 1959 animation masterwork, Sleeping Beauty, now celebrating its 65th Anniversary – Blimey! Was I really 10-years-old when I first saw it? – but I am more than a tad appalled by this particular merchandising money-spinner...

The marketing pitch runs thus (my bold italics for emphasis): 

"True love of pin-collecting conquers all with this series of mystery pins celebrating the 65th anniversary of Walt Disney's 'Seeping Beauty'. Each box contains two randomly selected pins from a possibility of ten different designs featuring the classic cast. Collect them all to assemble a Maleficent dragon silhouette."

Now, the price for two "mystery pins" is £14, or £7 each, meaning that the cost for a complete set of ten would be £70 – except that, since you have to buy the badges sight-unseen, there's a strong likelihood that you'll end up with at least a few (and possibly quite a lot) of duplicates before being able to assemble your 'Maleficent dragon silhouette.'


Maybe all pin-badgers are in swapping-circles or (perhaps more likely) will sell them on eBay for in excess of £7 apiece; but to my mind, "Once Upon a Dream" could very easily turn out to be an expensive nightmare!

So, yes, the set is a clever design and, indeed, looks pretty cool, but I really hope those crazy Disney pin-punters will, in this instance, consider choosing abstinence over collector's obsession!

But, hang on... I've just remembered: when Sleeping Beauty was first released, it proved an expensive box-office failure, so maybe Disney are still trying to recoup those 65-year-old losses!