Friday, 31 July 2020

Friday Five: Totally TV Moments

Friday Five

I didn't bother giving this post an adjective like 'craziest' or whatever because, well, if you've ever seen Totally TV you'll know that every moment is an 11 on the crazy-ometer. If you haven't seen it, all you need to know is that it's a YouTube channel for kids featuring adults dressed up as Disney princess and villains to act out [insane] plot lines, and take part in [bizarre] YouTube challenges. 

Marianna has been obsessed with it on and off since discovering it last year, and right now Bing and Midge have been all but forgotten in favour of endless vids about Princess X getting tricked into almost marrying Villain Y. They play other characters too, including their own original series The SuperPops, but you've got to draw the line somewhere. 

(Lack of OTT Disney villain is where my line is at!)

Anyway, here are five aspects I found I couldn't hate thanks to the sheer brilliance of their scripted insanity...




#5. Clone Wars

It's just a regular day in Totally TV Land when Gaston comes up with a cunning plan to make Belle his wife. By cloning her with a magical rubber chicken stolen from Maleficent's cave, obviously. Unfortunately LeFou's aim isn't as great as Gaston's, and the chicken hits Rapunzel instead of Belle. The boys do their best to salvage the situation and train Newpunzel to be the perfect girlfriend to make Belle jealous - and realise what she's missing out on.

Except it turns out that Newpunzel is secretly evil and soon forms her own clone army with which to take over the world! Will Maleficent put down this rebellion in time to keep her crown of evil?? (Spoiler: she totally will.) Gaston is continually attempting to trick Belle into marrying him, but this one is so out there it manages to leave LeFou's totally-real-and-not-at-all-made-up long distance girlfriend subplot as the weirdest aspect of the episode... It should at least be a made up boyfriend - there is little enough LGBTQ+ rep from Disney as it is, without erasing one of the few pieces of confirmed canon.



Totally TV Jafar

#4. Fire!

I'm not entirely sure what I find so amusing about Jafar's (aka J.Far's) catchphrase... It doesn't stop me embarrassing Marianna by repeating it at every available opportunity though.



Totally TV Hans

#3. On The Other Hans

By far the best thing about Totally TV is Hans and his beloved sideburns. Miles Allen is a pretty accomplished impersonator who did a worldwide tour with his One Man Breaking Bad show a few years back - that translates into some snort out loud funny performances as he attempts to 'charm' the princesses into marriage. 

(Typical conversation starter: Today is your lucky day, ladies! One of you is going to marry me and the bidding starts at just $1 million.)

This guy is almost enough to make up for the terrible American accent Marianna insists on doing when she plays out this show with her dolls. Almost.




#2. Christmas Wrap Battle

The villains challenge the princesses to a rap battle at the local mall... Neglecting to correct their assumption about the nature of the [w]rapping! That doesn't stop the princesses from spitting some 'dope rhymes' like Elsa's: 

"I'm the coolest of the cool and the coldest of the cold / I don't need a prince to save me because I broke the mould."

Hans was still robbed though.

"You'll get over it and if you don't, who cares? / I'm too busy brushing my sideburn hair."




#1. Back To The Future

Villainous shenanigans see the princesses living out their nightmare futures. Ariel has to play babysitter to Ursula and Prince Eric's offspring. Elsa is married to her 'Hansband' Hans, bringing up their daughter Little Hans. ("Hans," so he tells us, "is a strong name for boys and girls alike.")

Meanwhile Belle is married to Gaston and, er, loving life with her three adorable triplets: Gaston Junior, Gaston Junior Junior, and Egg. 



Have you ever seen Totally TV? Let me know in the comments! :)



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Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Mini Mart: My Dolly Dolls

MyDollyDolls on Etsy

Supplier: My Dolly Dolls
Website: Etsy Store

Products:

Absolutely amazing retro style tailored clothing for Barbie sized dolls. I bought a little top (£6), capri pants (£13), a blue pleated dress (£24), and a floral halterneck dress for a curvy Barbie doll (£24). You can check out more of their wonderful work on their instagram. :)

I wanted these as some show pieces for my room set ups and I'm so thrilled with the fit and the quality. There are tiny buttons, interior linings, belts, buckles, and even working pockets in the capri pants. I love it all so much I can't even decide which piece is my favourite! It's definitely a store I'll be going back to...

Post and Packing: About £6.

My Dolly Dolls on Etsy



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Mini Mart - Reviews of Dolls and Scale Miniatures


Wednesday, 22 July 2020

Mini Mart: Wooden Tales Workshop

WoodenTalesWorkshop on Etsy

Supplier: Wooden Tales Workshop
Website: Etsy Store
Products:

I decided it was time to give the 1/6 scale house a bit of an overhaul so I sold on a lot of Re-ment and other stuff and ordered a load of flat pack furniture. This was pretty adventurous for me because, well, I'm not good with full scale flat packs and this only promised to be more frustrating. For the most part, thankfully, it was straightforward. Except for the corner wardrobe unit. The air was very blue whilst that was going together, and the less said about the state of the sides you can't see the better! 

But, finally, we're at the stage where it only needs a few little paint touch-ups and the drawer handles glued on. (The bottom drawer of the dresser is actually open not badly fitting, btw.) I'm going to raise the legs of the Sindy bed a bit too to bring it more into scale. Every time I look at it I can see all my mistakes in building but, overall, I'm very happy with how it looks and how much space there now is for displaying some of my favourite miniatures.

Wooden Tales Workshop Doll Furniture

The units were about £18 each and I also bought a selection of super cute laser cut ELC style wooden train sets for £25. I haven't got around to painting those yet - or setting up the baby's room they'll be going in...

Post and Packing: About £6 or free if you spend over $100.

Wooden Tales Workshop on Etsy



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Monday, 20 July 2020

Union J Dolls


Union J Dolls Launch

Union J are a British boyband who were signed to RCA Records after finishing fourth in series nine of The X Factor. They had a few top ten UK hits and also provided the world with this wonderful video of one of their younger members needing to be told that Taylor Swift's bearding career has nothing to do with her facial hair... 

In 2013 Vivid released a set of lookalike dolls. Hamleys were initially selling them for £17 a piece, but you can get them new on Amazon now for £12.99 each.



Union J Dolls



Union J and their Dolls



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Monday, 13 July 2020

Little Mix Dolls

Little Mix Dolls

Little Mix are a pop group who won the eighth series of The X Factor back in 2011. That's kind of where my knowledge of them begins and ends. But! In 2012 they got their own fashion doll line, produced by Vivid Imaginations.



Little Mix Dolls

★ Jesy Nelson - box front / box back.
★ Jade Thirlwall - box front / box back.
★ Perrie Edwards - box front / box back.



Little Mix and their Dolls



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Friday, 10 July 2020

Friday Five: Broadcast Signal Intrusions

Friday Five

I love anything a bit creepy and mysterious, and anything to do with retro TV and radio. So it's a no brainer I'd be fascinated by broadcast signal intrusions. Ever since broadcast began there have been people attempting to disrupt, hijack or jam the signals. Reasons range from state censorship of foreign shortwave radio broadcasts right through to a random guy being angry about HBO's monthly subscription fees.

Sometimes signal intrusions are accidental, like the time in 2012 when a cut cable was being repaired and three minutes of a gay porno film was shown instead of Canada's CHCH-DT's morning news show. Sometimes they're all but a military operation, like the time in 2015 when TV5Monde was brought to its knees by a sustained cyber attack lasting over three hours. More typically they're the result of lone individuals or small groups of pranksters.

Here are five of my favourites...



#5. Zombie Apocalypse

On February 11th 2013 KRTV in Montana had their emergency alert system hacked during The Steve Wilkos Show to tell viewers:

'Civil authorities in your area have reported that the bodies of the dead are rising from their graves and attacking the living. Follow the messages onscreen that will be updated as information becomes available. Do not attempt to approach or apprehend these bodies as they are considered extremely dangerous.' 


The same message was later sent out over the EAS of WBUP (c. 20:30 during The Bachelor) and WNMU (c. 16:00 during Barney and Friends) in Michigan, and KENW in New Mexico. Meanwhile DJs joking about the event on rock radio station Z93 inadvertently triggered the linked emergency alert system of Wisconsin's WKBT-DT into repeating the zombie warning during their morning news broadcast.

All broadcasters in the USA have to sign up to the national emergency alert system, and the hack was enabled by stations which hadn't changed the default password on equipment they bought from Monroe Electronics - who had helpfully published the defaults in their publicly accessible online manual. News reports claimed that authorities had traced the source of the hack to outside the USA, but I failed to find any follow up on what action (if any) was taken against them. 



#4. Panorama

Not the UK current affairs programme, but the Czech Television Sunday morning tourism show. The regular schedule of pretty panoramic views of the Czech countryside was replaced on 17th June 2007 with shocking scenes appearing to show a nuclear explosion in the KrkonoŇ°e mountain range. It turned out to be a stunt by guerilla artist collective Ztohoven, but for those watching live it must have been a horrifying moment!


Six Ztohoven members ended up in court over the incident, facing prison sentences of up to three years a piece, but the charges were dismissed by a judge in March 2008.



#3. Help Us, Lord

Another intrusion from 2007, this time from Australia's Seven Network during a January 3rd airing of Canadian import 'Mayday: Head-on Collision'. The audio was suddenly replaced with a creepy loop of an American voice saying:

Jesus Christ, help us all, Lord. Fuck.

This went on for around six minutes before the proper audio signal was restored. Spokespeople for Channel 7 told newspapers that "It was a technical glitch due to an audio problem with the tape. The line actually is 'Jesus Christ one of the Navarines' and this is from the documentary [Mayday]."

As explanations go, it was more than a little lame. Especially when the audio was traced to a 2006 Channel 7 news broadcast showing footage of US supply truck driver Preston Wheeler pleading for his life while being fired on by insurgents in Iraq. Who spliced it into Mayday - and why - remains a total mystery.




Max Headroom Broadcast Signal Intrusion

#2. Max Headroom

Max Headroom was a character dreamed up to present music videos on Channel 4 back in 1985. Claimed to be a CGI creation, computer graphics of the time were nowhere near capable and Max was actually actor Matt Frewer under four hours worth of prosthetics and make-up. It didn't stop him going the 80s equivalent of viral and by 1987 he had his own US TV show in addition to being the face of New Coke. 

He was a big enough deal to spawn his own costume masks, one of which showed up in the most unexpected place - interrupting a WGN-TV sports report on November 22nd 1987. The screen went black for 15 seconds before showing someone in a Max Headroom mask stood before a rotating corrugated metal panel, accompanied by a buzzing sound. After 28 seconds WGN engineers succeeded in switching the broadcast frequency, patching viewers back into the studio where sports anchor Dan Roan told them: "Well, if you're wondering what's happened, so am I!"


A couple of hours later, during a broadcast of the Dr Who episode Horror of Fang Rock, Max Headroom's creepier twin struck again. With no engineers on duty at the relevant transmitting station, this time the signal hijack lasted 90 seconds until cutting out of its own accord. Although it was now WTTW, a PBS affiliate, who fell prey to the hoaxers it was still WGN they had in the firing line. Sportscaster Chuck Swirsky was singled out in their rambling diatribe which also proclaimed the hijack to be a masterpiece for the nerds at WGN. 


Over 30 years on and their identity remains a mystery, but research into the subject suggests it was almost certainly an inside job, presumably by someone with an axe to grind against WGN-TV. The equipment needed to overpower the Sears Tower transmitter simply wouldn't have been available to an amateur, no matter how dedicated. 



Southern Television

#1. United Kingdom

My favourite broadcast intrusion is also the earliest on this list, dating back to November 26th, 1977. Andrew Gardner was reading the early evening news on ITV franchise Southern Television when the picture went wobbly. At 17:10 the audio feed was then replaced with the voice of 'Vrillon', a self-proclaimed representative of the Ashtar Galactic Command. 

Although the visuals carried on as normal, the news bulletin giving way to a Looney Tunes cartoon, but the voice of Vrillon continued to air for around six minutes. Wikipedia has a full transcript and issue #24 of Fortean Times printed a summary transcript that winter:

'This is the voice of Asteron. I am an authorised representative of the Intergalactic Mission, and I have a message for the planet Earth. We are beginning to enter the period of Aquarius and there are many corrections which have to be made by Earth people. All your weapons of evil must be destroyed. You have only a short time to learn to live together in peace. You must live in peace... or leave the galaxy.'

There are no official recordings of the event, though contemporary reports suggest there was at least one audio tape circulating in 1977. E.g. John Whitmore told Bob Holness in a December '77 interview, "I'd first like to refer to the recording itself of the complete message, one thing that struck me was that there was in fact nothing threatening whatsoever on the tape, and I was aware that most of the newspaper reports said it was threatening and frightening and so on, and so forth, and I just want to point out that that's sort-of a projection of the fears onto the material itself rather than the reality."

CITV show It's a Mystery recreated the event in 1999:


Southern was one of the few UK broadcasters vulnerable to such an intrusion, relying on a receiver at their Hannington transmitter rather than a direct landline. This meant that an intrusive signal wouldn't need to be particularly powerful to supersede that coming from the Rowridge transmitter on the Isle of Wight. Even so, in 1977 this would have taken a lot of specialist knowledge and equipment to accomplish - making it all the more remarkable that those behind the incident have never been identified.

1977, of course, was also the year of a major UFO 'flap' in the UK. I wrote a whole post on the Broad Haven Mystery a while ago, and there was a general growing interest in the subject with the imminent UK release of both Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind (December '77 and March '78, respectively). Or, just maybe, Vrillon was the real deal...

This vid is posted multiple times on YouTube claiming to be original footage, though I couldn't find any confirmation:




Which one is your favourite? Let me know in the comments! :)



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Monday, 6 July 2020

Cave Club Dolls

Cave Club Dolls

Mattel's new 10" Cave Club dolls look awesome. They have all the crazy hair fun of trolls or lines like Hairdorables, with the added draw of dinosaurs. Literally. There is a dino with heart pattern and brushable hair. It's like they've tapped right into the wants of my three year old brain!

My favourite thing about the line is the dinosaur cot mobile in the babysitting playset. Cutest. Thing. Ever.

Wave one was released in March 2020.



Mattel Cave Club Basic Dolls

Basic Dolls

★ Tella and Hunch - box front / box back.
★ Fernessa and Ptilly - box front / box back.
★ Emberly and Flaire - box front / box back.
★ Roralai and Ferrell - box front / box back.
★ Slate and Taggy - box front / box back.



Cave Club Wild About CatsCave Club BBQ


Playsets


Cave Club Babysitting
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Saturday, 4 July 2020

Barbie Week

Homeschooling with Barbie

For the last month or so homeschool has been a bit of a nightmare. Marianna has learned that if she tantrums long enough and hard enough my will to complete the work sent home is inevitably eroded. Her excuses range from not liking the books they're reading, to her hand suddenly hurting far too much to write the single word answers required of her, to the theory that if only she was doing something 'fun' (as opposed to the many and varied craft projects suggested by her school teacher) then she would be getting on with her work nicely...

So, in the interests of maintaining some semblance of sanity, I asked her to come up with fun topics she would want to focus on. The net result is lots of dolls, fairies, and princesses. But. I can totally work with that! Here is what we've been up to this week:



MONDAY

Introducing Barbie and Friends

 - Put together the Barbie jigsaw printable.
 - Cut and stick Barbie characters (printable A and B) to A3 sheet.
 - Discuss who's who and what they are to Barbie.
 - Stick relationship labels to sheet.
 - Break.
 - Read Barbie Ladybird book.
 - Fill out the About Me printable for Barbie.
 - Lunch.
 - Watch Wisconsin for Kids video on YouTube.
 - Complete Wisconsin worksheet.
 - Watch California for Kids video on YouTube.
 - Complete California worksheet

It was off to a bit of a rocky start but things improved in the afternoon. I left Anthony to read the book to M while I took what felt like half our house to the charity depot. By the end of the day I could actually point out an American state on the map and Marianna was a new devotee of Kelly/Shelly.



TUESDAY

Barbie Through History

 - Try to put the Barbies and Kens in correct historical order. (Printable A and B)
 - Barbie was introduced in 1959. Watch original advert.
 - What was life like in the 1950s? Watch Keeping Clean and Neat (1956).
 - Break.
 - Watch old Barbie commercials.
 - What was life like in the 1960s and 1970s? Talk about things we know, eg. Mary, Mungo and Midge.
 - Watch Welcome to the 60s from Hairspray.
 - Use YouTube tutorials to learn how to Twist. 
 - Lunch.
 - Barbie and the Rockers. Discuss the differences between the 1980s and 1959.
 - What would we find different between today and the 1980s?
 - Complete Long Creations Covid-19 Time Capsule worksheets.




WEDNESDAY

Barbie Careers

 - Think of ten jobs and write a list. Find out if Barbie has done them.
 - What job would you like to do? You Can Be Anything worksheet.
 - What new job do you think Barbie should do? Design a doll, outfit and accessories.
 - Write a letter to Mattel with the suggestion.
 - Lunch.
 - Bake cupcakes like Chef Barbie.
 - Make pizzas like Pizza Chef Barbie.
 - Complete McDonalds' Barbie Ballerina worksheet.



THURSDAY

Barbie Fashion Design

 - Play Barbie dress up game on tablet. 
 - Colour in paper clothes according to Welsh language instructions.
 - Hang paper clothes on washing line according to Welsh language instructions.
 - Break.
 - Watch Barbie Fashion Secrets on YouTube.
 - Use printable body form to design an outfit for Barbie with craft materials.
 - Lunch.
 - Try sewing with styrofoam plates. (As seen on Make It, Love It.)
 - Sew a Barbie dress.

I was in virtual meetings on MS Teams for most of the day so we only did the paper clothes and the plate sewing. Marianna was really impressed with herself for sewing for the very first time.




FRIDAY

Barbie Party!

 - Watch Barbie's Birthday Party on YouTube.
 - Make a checklist of things we need to do to host a party.
 - Write out party invites.
 - Organise food and entertainment.
 - Make a birthday card for Barbie.
 - Break.
 - Make decorations.
 - Decorate party room.
 - Lunch.
 - Make party snacks.
 - Paint nails, plus hair and make-up.
 - Dress.
 - Present Barbie project certificate.





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Friday, 3 July 2020

Friday Five: Soda


Friday Five

Juice, pop, fizzy drink - whatever floats your boat! I've always called it pop, with all brown coloured stuff being generically labelled 'coke' and clear stuff 'lemonade'. Of course, my dad employed the inevitable dad humour to give us water every time we asked for pop as kids.

Apparently it was 'council pop'. Very Scarfolk!

These days I don't drink pop that often, but sometimes nothing quenches your thirst quite like it.



#5. Lemonade 

No preference on brand, to be honest, so long as it makes no claims to contain real lemon.



#4. Cola

Anthony is addicted to Coca Cola, there is no other word for it. I quite enjoy an ice cold glass now and then, but that's as far as it goes for me. (Unless it's masking a generous helping of whiskey or malibu. I can always make an exception...)



#3. Orange

Who loves orange soda? I have to admit to preferring Fanta over own brand though.

Kenan and Kel and Orange Soda



#2. Bubblegum

Nothing says adulthood like drinking a bottle of blue coloured sugar water and not having to beg anyone for the privilege. Seriously though, bubblegum pop is such a nostalgia trip. And is awesome as part of an ice cream float.



#1. Vimto

The best pop, the best lollipops, and the best squash. All hail Vimto, huh? :)

Vimto



What is your favourite pop? Let me know in the comments! :)



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Thursday, 2 July 2020

Happiness is a Gift Review and Giveaway

Happiness is a Gift personalised hammer

It's Anthony's birthday this month so it was great timing for us to be asked to review an item from Happiness is a Gift! I love personalised gifts of all shapes and sizes because that little message, in the words of Marie Kondo, can help transform even the most mundane of everyday objects into something which brings you joy. 

Happiness is a Gift has a great range of options with everything from personalised chocolate at £5.99, to an on-trend personalised lantern at £16.99, to a gorgeous rose gold wristwatch for £65. The website is easy to navigate too, with the ability to search by gift type, occasion, and recipient.

Even so, it took Marianna and I a while to pick out the right present for Anthony. Cufflinks, wallets, and a personalised chef's hat were all considered and, ultimately, discarded. Then we came across the perfect opportunity to mesh the practical with the novelty: a personalised hammer.

Happiness is a Gift Hammer
Marianna rocking her lockdown fringe...

Because a couple of years ago Anthony made it into family folklore when, unable to find a hammer in the house, he decided to attempt DIY with a meat mallet. The results were... well, everything you would expect. It's the kind of occasion that deserves to be commemorated as often as possible.

Decision made, we asked for the hammer to be personalised with the message 'Daddy, love Marianna x'. Delivery was super quick with the hammer carefully packaged to ensure no bumps or bangs, and now Anthony need never again resort to kitchenware. It also meant we could play on the German phrase 'Du bist der Hammer!' which translates to 'You are the best!' :)

Du bist der Hammer!

Check out Happiness is a Gift to find your perfect present. And if you fancy getting any item you like up up to a value of £25, fill out the Gleam widget below for your chance to win. (UK entries only, no cash alternative available. Ends 03/08/20.)


Happiness is a Gift Giveaway


*We were sent the hammer to review, but all thoughts and opinions are our own!*



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