Tuesday, 28 April 2009

[Turtlewind] The Turtle Moralises

My previous attempt to have sex with the last girl who sent me an email forward failed after she found out how to block my messages. Now, however, I have completed one of her challenges with responses so nakedly honest that she will have no choice but to be filled with a desire to gaze on my naked honesty...

You've just cooked dinner for your four friends, when disaster strikes and you drop the chicken on the kitchen floor. Before you can stop him, the dog dashes in and licks it, but you get it away before he can do anything else. You have nothing else to cook. Do you own up, or do you serve the chicken up for tea? You're vegetarian anyway.

My ‘four friends’? ‘Dropping the chicken’? Is this a question about playing with yourself? That sends you blind, you know. Oh, apparently it’s just about food. The answer here is quite simple. The dog has ruined the dinner, therefore the dog must replace it. I would give it half an hour to prepare a scintillating repast, or else it would be Fido fricasée for the acolytes of the Mysterious Mr Turtlewind. Some would call this casual cruelty to animals, I call it natural selection.

You're in the supermarket car park, when in a momentary lapse of concentration, your shopping trolley scrapes somebody's new Mercedes down the side. Nobody appears to be looking. Do you own up?

The Turtle must have no fear. There’s no point in indulging in wanton vandalism without glorying in your handiwork. Accidents are for spineless cowards. So I would go back and carve the sign of the Turtle into the car, with the shopping trolley.

You're out with your mate, who starts chatting up a rather fit bloke/bird. It's obvious that said bloke/bird actually fancies you. The feeling's mutual. Who do you go home with?

A bloke/bird? It is true that I yearn for a meaningful relationship, with boobies and everything, but I like to think that I might draw the line at hermaphrodites, unless I’d had rather too many sweet sherries! However, there are also the feelings of my friend to consider. Most of my friends are actually already married (David and Jamie) so I’d heroically take the bullet and pull the shemale, then indulge in extremely naughty carnal acts at a high volume in my friend’s garden, to remind him what a good mate I am to prevent him commiting adultery thusly.

One of your employees does a fantastic piece of work, which your boss has seen. The boss comes over to congratulate you, but seems to think you did it. Who gets the credit?

I call no man ‘boss’. Mine is a lonely path. If, however, I was on another deep cover mission that required that I appear subservient to a flaccid middle manager, I suppose I would point out the underling that had so impressed him. Although Barry and I would be waiting in the car park with Mr Stabby later to impress upon the whelp the importance of putting your name on things in the first place.

You're walking along the high street and an old lady drops a bundle of 20 pound notes on the pavement. You're broke. The gas bill needs paying and you wanted some new shoes for Friday night. What would you do?

Please bear in mind that I am a God-like figure, and so must be judged by higher standards than you. For mysterious divine reasons I would take the money, stick it in my sock along with a large amount of sand, catch up with the old lady and smack her round the head with it (this is important, as if detained by the nice men at the Police Station, I could claim I was ‘returning’ her money ‘enthusiastically’). Then I’d go through all her stuff to see if there was any more cash. After that, I’d scamper down to the canal to get a lift on one of my favourite getaway barges. Teehee. Oh, and I’d steal her shoes as well, so I could save the cash to use on scoring some smack.

You're skint. No going out for you this weekend. You'd like to have enough change left from your groceries, though, to buy a bottle of vino with which to console yourself as you watch dire weekend TV. If you don't buy your usual Fair Trade tea, coffee and the like, you'll just about scrape a bottle of plonk. Do you?

Those tree-hugging Fair Traders might act nice, but they were terribly rude to me when I offered them the opportunity to endorse my stinging nettle soap. So I’d get the wine, and kick down the coffee aisle, which is surprisingly easy to do if you know what you’re doing...

You are an inmate in a prison camp. A vicious guard is about to hang your son who tried to escape and wants you to pull the chair from underneath his feet. He says that if you don't he will not only kill your son but at least one other prisoner. You know that he means it. What do you do?

Now this did actually happen to me once. Not as an inmate, because to have a son you have to have, you know, ‘naughty-bumpy’. But my earliest memory had a certain ‘noosey’ quality. As I recall, I soiled myself. On my father’s head. The noble and paternal Mr _____________ said something bad, which the guard took as a gesture of defiance... ‘Dangling infant becomes sole survivor of Hypothetical Camp inferno’ is the first clipping in my scrapbook.

A man who has threatened to explode several bombs in crowded areas has been arrested. He has already planted the bombs and if they go off, many people will die. He won't say a word, and the only way to make him is by torture. Do you do it?

This is a silly question. Torture is wrong. There are always options. For example, I find it very effective, when eliciting information from reluctant sources, to whisper gently into the suspect’s ear: ‘Listen son, there’s no specific law that says I can’t piss in your hair.’

You're a therapist and one of your patients has just told you that he intends to kill his wife. You don't think he's fantasising. What do you do?

Oh come on! The whole reason I BECAME a therapist was to hear that kind of gossip! I’d be straight down the pub to sit in front of a rapt audience of concussed tramps and say things like: ‘Well, looks like there’s trouble in paradise THERE, who was it said they’d only give them six months?’ I’d get so much respect that if the patient stumbled in just before last orders with blood soaking into his light blue shirt, I’d even buy him a pint. OK, a half.

(There is a lot of detail in this last response. That’s because I have a vivid imagination and have never done anything like this. If you wish to argue, please bear in mind that there’s no specific law that says I can’t piss in your hair)

Your best friend tells you that he has committed a particular crime and you promise never to tell. However, you discover that an innocent person has been accused of the crime and will be spending several months in prison unless your friend confesses. You plead with him to give himself up but he won't. What do you do?

A friend is someone who will be there when you need them. A true friend is someone who helps hide the bodies. If I had many friends, I’d expect them all to frame postmen to keep me out of jail, so it’s the least I can do for one of them. Whatever happened to loyalty?

I hope this will help show you the way next time you are in a quandary. Just think to yourselves, 'what would Turtlewind do?' More often than not, everything will become clear.

Happy times and places
Your friend, the mysterious Mr Turtlewind, Esq

Turtlewind Index

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

[Turtlewind] Turtles go to a BETTER place. Than you

After the rapturous reception received by my warning against the dissembling nature of McDonalds, my scorpion buddies and I decided to reward you foolish lay people with another glimpse into the fascinating world of the International Turtle of Mystery. I was drawn to this heading because it involves laughing at death, which I like to do most weekday evenings, hiding at retirement homes until the hearses arrive when I leap out giggling at the funny boxes.

In any case, the opportunity to make fun of death and misery in a socially acceptable fashion was more than I could resist. So, come the day when the Turtle must soon hang up his scorpion whip, what will my eulogy be?


My friends, we are gathered to celebrate the life of the noble yet mysterious Mr Turtlewind, who died in such a characteristically mysterious way last Tuesday afternoon.

While there will be much speculation on exactly how Mr Turtlewind managed to entice three nuns into pistol-whipping his oiled, naked body, there is little doubt it is the way he would have wished to die.

Well, that's not quite true, as the activity of the FOURTH nun at the time of death suggests that he might have been even happier to die just a few moments later.

But we are not here to discuss what might have been. Rather we are here to celebrate the past of this heroic figure.

Born Nathaniel Terrapinbreeze, this fine man was reputed by some to be the illegitimate child of the Earl of Rochester. The details of his early life remain suitably mysterious, but we do know that at the age of five he was trapped in a landslide for a week, following torrential rain in his native Dagenham. This terrifying ordeal was to have a very positive effect on Turtlewind, as it introduced him to his favourite food, the quintessential snack, Tarte a la Boue. Mud pies remained his staple meal for the rest of his life, although this happy culinary relationship was soured following a suicide attempt in the early 21st century.

Having proudly shared his recipe for happiness with the members of a charming online community, Turtlewind was driven to try and hang himself after several members jeered at him, claiming that 'mud pies aren't a real recipe.'

But we digress. Turtlewind had many fine friends throughout his life, some of whom were not entirely imaginary. Our thoughts today are with absent friends such as Barry the Scorpion (unavoidably busy with charity work in Leicester), Harold Pinter and David Beckham. Although Beckham and Turtlewind never spoke again after our hero buggered Posh live on Parkinson, the bald, half-dead former footballer is understood to be 'saddened' by the news of his death.

Fast food chain McDonalds also send their condolences. Their love and support for Turtlewind was an endless comfort for a lonely old man over the last ten years. This respect, of course, was due to Turtlewind stepping in at the last minute to save the company he had sworn to destroy. He was worried that the Giant Wasps he had trained to eat all the McFlurries could turn on him, and so blasted them back into space. In return, McDonalds pushed the frontiers of science to imprison and donate a friendly ghost (that of Fidel Castro) to Mr Turtlewind. Castro is particularly welcome at this memorial service. Or at least he has been since we cudgelled the priest into a coma with Mr Turtlewind's HUGE WANG (preserved according to his worryingly clear wishes).

But what did Turtlewind actually do? Obviously, his primary work was in scorpion whispering and rehabilitation. Scorpions Against Barbiturates are still reeling from the loss, and the remote Amazonian village which worshipped Turtlewind as a deity have planned mass suicide for next Thursday afternoon. Incidentally, Turtlewind's will makes it quite clear that all beneficiaries must undertake the arduous trip to the village in order to hide in the bushes and giggle at all the coffins.

Because that's the Turtlewind that we'll all remember. Behind the angry child who heard voices; behind the randomly cruel young man that sacrificed goats to Les Dawson; behind even the suave scorpion tamer who spent his weekends spitting on hobos and catching butterflies in his teeth - behind all these things, it'll be the laughter we remember. Shrill, girly laughter with a worryingly intense timbre, admittedly, but laughter nonetheless. Remember his guffaws when the White House was blown away in a cyclone to reveal George Bush masturbating? His childlike tittering when Malta spontaneously combusted? His endearing little giggle every time a small child tripped over the savage scorpion hounds he kept tethered in his front garden? So many happy memories.

The mysterious Mr Turtlewind was many things to many men. And even some women, before the drugs wore off. Torturer, chef, raconteur, vigilante, God, moth farmer, lover, scamp and friend. He has touched us all and the world can never be the same again.

I am amazed that a man with so many different personalities can fit into one small coffin, particularly after we filled it with his coathanger collection as he requested. And now, let us take a few moments to laugh at his desiccated corpse.

It's what he would have wanted.

Your friend,
The Mysterious Mr Turtlewind

Turtlewind Index

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

[Turtlewind] "I Am The Bad Turtle. I Create Myself"

It has been a scary few months in the life of your friend, the Mysterious Mr Turtlewind. I was so drained by the tedium of completing some unesteemed fool's challenge in my previous epistolary masterpiece that I allowed myself to be abducted by the Anti-Matt, a universe-shattering Mini Cheddar-addicted demon. Who lives in a garage in Harwich.

Anti-Matt has always been a lower-level nemesis, a former housemate who turned against his mentor after a nasty argument about the gas bill while clearing rebels out of Suffolk in the '98 Calpol War. I'm still not quite sure where he got his unnatural powers of mould generation and universe shattering, but I think it might have been in the car park toilets where men do things to each other's bottoms.

I was dangling from the ceiling (there was a chair but you couldn't get round the battered white Ford Escort to sit on it) for about a week while Anti-Matt revealed his evil schemes. Well, he talked a lot about being a homeless orphan and things, but then his parents came round to see his new flat, so I was left on my own for a bit.

It was around this point that I realised Barry was still in my trouser pocket, in fact he was reminding me of his presence in a somewhat flirtatious manner, the scamp.

"Not now, Barry," I said. "All naughty-bumpy thoughts have been pushed from my mind with all the mild anxiety of dangling over this Ford Escort. Fetch help while I grapple with philosophical issues."

The armour-plated little whelp gave a scorpion-like cackle and scuttled off under the garage door. The little chink of light under that door was driving me half mad with its prospect of freedom, bringing with it the ripe odour of a fresh, unburned tramp just yards away.

I was cracking up. I had to think about something else. And what better than the eternal question of Creation vs Evolution?

Clearly, I reasoned, it all comes down to beards. Evolutionary crusader Mr Chaz Darwin had a pretty impressive beard, but would it win in a fight with the facefuzz of Creationism's most popular supporter, the Beard Daddy himself, God?

But this is a flawed line of reasoning. If God is infinite, then His beard must logically also be infinite. So he's frankly going to crap on Chazza Dazza to such a huge extent that the whole argument would never have arisen in the first place. Only by recruiting the esteemed Mr Brian Blessed would the lizard-bothering explorer hope to prevail. And that would be cheating.

Even the well-worn philosophical test of whose Dad is harder falters in this case, as God the father is also God and, therefore, also infinite. Bobblehats.

These thoughts were interrupted by Anti-Matt, who was taking a crap in the broken washing machine by the door. Spreading his demonic wings, which did look a little like a mouldy grey duvet, he marched forwards.

"Creationism is the only explanation for the development of humanity," he smarmed. "At least that's what I say when I want to touch Christian girls."

I smiled. "Ah, my mendacious little foe, how naive you are. Treading blindly in the path of religious dogma banishes all mystery from life. And that is why the Mysterious Mr Turtlewind, Esq. will always win."

You may note, dear reader, that I was sounding somewhat smug. This is because I had heard sounds of rescue from the other side of the garage door.

Sure enough, the door burst inwards in a shower of wickedly sharp wooden splinters. A replica of the A-Team van thundered into the garage, sending Anti-Matt and the Ford Escort rolling into the far wall.

"Barry!" I squealed with giddy glee, assuming that the venomous little tyke had fetched these heroes to aid my mysterious escape. My ardour was only slightly dented when the Guild of Essex Craftsmen committee piled out of the van.

Tony the treasurer laid down suppressing fire at the washing machine while Betty the events secretary untied my wrists from the ceiling.

"Did Barry send you?" I asked, rubbing my sore wrists.

Betty shook her head. "No, lad. Not many people need craftsmen these days in Essex, so we mostly cruise round crashing into people's garages so we can repair the doorframes afterwards."

Quickly recovering from my recent ordeal, my eyes lit up. "Sweet! That's an even better scam than selling moles as otters to wildlife sanctuaries!"

"Er, no..." Tony looked a bit confused, and I wondered briefly whether he had a day job at Langdon Nature Reserve. "We don't accept payment. The Guild of Essex Craftsman is a noble organisation. We are spiritual and selfless and… shit."

As the Guild drove me back towards Turtle Grange (Celia was driving and muttering things like "I pity the foo' who doesn't use an accredited French polisher"), I questioned Tony about his spirituality. It turned out that he was a firm believer in a God who loved all His children, but that the theory of evolution was a rigourous scientific hypothesis that may have helped lift the veil on some of the Creator's mysteries.

He went a bit quiet after that, possibly as he couldn't hope to win any debate following my counter-argument that his theory was gay hippie fence-sitting crap.

After the Guild had crashed through and then repaired the garage doors of Turtle Grange, with James Merriot taking a few hours to paint a specially commissioned watercolour of Posh Spice's bottom, I returned to my thoughts concerning the development of life as we know it.

Evolution makes a lot more sense. That we developed from a simple primordial slime explains so much. My fondness for tarte a la boue, for example, and how would I have such kinship with scorpions if we didn't share a chromosome or two way back in our genetic heritage?

Quite apart from anything else, my experiments on the tensile strength of grey cats had long ago demonstrated how living things adapt to their surroundings (in the cats' case by tearing down the middle in a messy fashion). And the Anti-Matt could only have been created due to a freak cell mutation or several.

But so many people on America, the Comedy Continent, keep banging on about God and stuff. They're clearly talking crap, but they won't shut up, so we have to sort this out once and for all.

So, God or Darwin? Who's better? As my esteemed colleague Mr Harold Hill would say, "There's only one way to find out... FIGHT!"

A month later, Barry and I had set up the boxing ring at the bottom of next door's garden, and we'd almost convinced the Guild to stop whittling the owner's apple trees into fragile sculptures of butterflies. We were just waiting for our two champions, when the Turtlephone rang.

"Hi Purplewing," said the familiar voice of David Beckham. "Think you've got a problem. Sky Sports turned down the Pay Per View deal and Darwin and God are both dead."

"What?" I squeaked in my manly baritone. "Since when has God been dead?"

"Some German bloke called Neat Shirt reckons it's been a while," opined the mulleted muppet.

Clearly, it was back to the drawing board once again…

Another month later, I'd reassembled my boxing ring with two brand new pugilists. In the red corner, Mr Patrick Stewart (who is really a crime-fighting evolved mutant man in a wheelchair according to the documentary X-Men 3), and in the blue corner, Mr Phil Collins. David Beckham said we should get him because he used to believe in Genesis even when no one else would heed their words. He tried to tell us what he thought about creationism, but I deflected his argument by slapping him gently about the kidneys.

As the two Champions came down from their chloroform high, I took the microphone and addressed them sternly.

"Patrick 'Evolved' Stewart and Phil 'Creation' Collins, we're looking for a nasty, messy deathmatch to settle this thorny theological debate for eternity. I want to see plenty of gouging, goolie-mauling and nose-biting, so we can put them on the DVD in slow-motion."

I though the two combatants would be a little more reluctuant, but apparently Mr Phil had spilled Mr Patrick's pint in a pub in Godalming in 1973 and there was a score to be settled.

"In just another round, you'll be in paradise, wanker," snarled Captain Picard.

"Yeah? Come here and 'make it so', bitch," spat Phil Collins.

Phil started well, with a flurry of upper-cuts to the chin of the RSC's finest. But once Patrick unleashed his steely stare of Quality Drama, there was only one way the fight could go. I must confess, lame reader, that I lost my concentration briefly and found myself doing the Robot with Patrick in a pool of Phil Collins's entrails.

I couldn't be seen dancing in such an unesteemed fashion with a 90s science-fiction icon, so I quickly converted my funky stylings into a patented Turtlemoonwalk. However, I slipped on Phil's liver and found myself flat on my back, staring up at a blinding sun.

The sun was blotted out by a sinister shape as Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra struck up an ominous theme (they do keep following me around, they have even less to do than the Guild of Essex Craftsmen), and a curiously ill-defined hand pulled me to my feet.

"That's some f**d-up dancin', you crazy son of a b****," said the newcomer.

"Naughty words give you cancer," I recited solemnly, as my diseased canal-cervixed whore of a mother used to tell me. "Who the f*** are you?"

"I'm DD," said the soldier of fortune.

"Ew, man-boobies!" I crowed. "I'm barely an A-cup! But what's your name, and which is better, evolution or creationism?"

"Ah shucks man, I just came here to see that Collins b**** get iced by the Stewster. I ain't doin' no surveys, they suck Mormon a**! The way I see it, you've got evolution, based on empirical evidence compiled by clever dudes with an education and an open mind - or creationism, based on the ramblings of mad f***ers with a 2,000 year old book and a single-figure IQ. I know who I'd kick out of my mother-f***ing balloon, a**hole."

Behind us, I heard another voice. "Yeah, you scorpion-sexualising wonga!" There was more, but it was muffled by the owner of the voice vomiting into Phil's open chest cavity.

I picked up Barry with a dignified flounce, and wandered back into Turtle Grange, away from the bizarre newcomers who had spoiled my philosophical epiphany.

That night, I updated my blog ('the adventures of the lonely boy who made them all PAY') and added the following thoughts:

'Evolution is so obviously a rational and sane way of looking at the world that anyone who says differently should be laughed at, committed and drop-kicked into a plague pit. The bloody wreck of Phil Collins proves it. So why do we continue to even pretend to take weirdo fundamentalists at all seriously when they're obviously talking s***? And who is this bizarre newcomer DD who has burst into my life, upset one of my giggling schemes and got me talking in asterisks? I feel this chapter is not yet closed...'

Until next time, dull readers, happy times and places

Your friend
The Mysterious Mr Turtlewind, Esq.

Turtlewind Index

Saturday, 11 April 2009

The Eastenders Death-Fest

When I was told that for the second year in a row, the BBC’s soap Eastenders would have as its Easter plot a man being buried alive, I scoffed. “Of course not!” I said. “That would be ridiculous.”

Last year housewife Tanya was bored, and so decided to bury her husband Max (Kill-Crazy from Red Dwarf) alive in the woods in a coffin. Max then dug his way out and rose from the dead, and now a year later they are living together as a happy loving family and I haven’t a clue why (apart from the fact that the writers seem to think middle aged balding men are irresistible).

But last night, Phil Mitchell (another irresistible middle aged balding man) had the villainous Archie Mitchell in a pit whilst he stood above him with a cement mixer laughing away evilly. Archie is a classic soap villain in that his sole motivation is ‘he’s evil’. Of course we don't get a cementy death in a pre-watershed popular drama, so instead Archie just gets water hilariously poured on his head. Then Phil’s mum (played by Barbara Windsor of Carry-On fame) throws him out of the house for not being a murderer. I wish I could make this stuff up.

The sheer amount of deaths and attempted murders in Eastenders recently has made me cast my mind back to those we have lost. Come with me on my journey through Eastenders-Land and my favourite horrible deaths!

Danielle Jones
You are never allowed to be happy. Ever.

Poor Danielle. In one of the soaps more interesting twists, she was revealed to be the long-lost daughter of regular character Ronnie, who was forced by her evil father (the aforementioned Archie) to give her up as a baby.  Danielle returns to find her mother, and does she tell her?

No. She decides to tell her, wanders over to Ronnie’s place, then chickens out and goes back to the train station. Once or twice would have been fine, but this went on for an entire sodding year. Eventually Danielle worked up the courage to tell Ronnie but instead bumped into Evil Archie.

Evil Archie had told Ronnie that her baby had died. So in order to get away with that little lie, Archie decided to try to murder Danielle. Since being found out for a lie is far worse than killing someone. Thankfully Danielle escaped by wandering back to the train station.

Eventually she did tell Ronnie who didn’t believe her. So Danielle ran away to the train station again. Ronnie caught up with her, told her she believed her and that they would at last both be happy...

...and a car comes out of nowhere (driven by Eastenders' regular murderess Janine Butcher), running over Danielle in order to be as contrived and depressing as possible. The camera then pans slowly out on Ronnie crouching over her daughter’s body, screaming “NOOO!” in her best Darth Vader impression. That was just last week!

Moral: If you’re adopted never go looking for your real parents. Especially if they live in the East End.
Steve Owen

To me, the golden years of Eastenders where when Steve Owen was around. Played by Martin Kemp of Spandau Ballet fame, he strutted about the nightclub he owned (the E-20) to the tune of Gold, which was played often. They kept trying to make him a villain, but he was just too darn lovable and often he fought epic battles with his enemies, the immortal Phil Mitchell and Dan ‘I was in Cliffhanger’ Sullivan.

On Valentines Day 1999 his crazy ex-girlfriend tried to kill him and so in self-defence he smacked her over the head with an ashtray, killing her. Rather than take the CCTV to the police which proved he was acting in self defence, he buried her body in a shallow grave in Epping Forest.

As an aside I did attempt to put together a book range in which Steve Owen would operate out of the E-20, fighting robots, dinosaurs and zombies with his trusty ash-tray, but I guess it was an idea too far ahead of its time.
After various fires, kidnappings and extortions, Steve finally decided to try to take on Phil Mitchell and for some reason decided to steal Phil’s baby and drove off with it. Steve then promptly crashed into a wall and after getting the cute kid to safety, his car exploded into a huge fireball, killing him.

Pauline Fowler
Here’s a confession – I never liked Pauline Fowler. At all. Eastenders has a habit of taking attractive actresses from the 60s and 70s and strutting them about as old, bitter wrinkly prunes so that when we watch old episodes of Are You Being Served or Carry On we want to vomit.

Pauline Fowler had been around the square forever, sitting in her cardigan and scowling. Ten years earlier her husband Arthur had died (eerily predicted by the Eastenders / Doctor Who crossover ‘Dimensions In Time’) and so the character had nothing left to do but be depressing. If I wanted to watch old ladies in cardigans hang about a laundrette I’d just get out the old binoculars and stare out the window, thank you very much.

Finally they decided to kill her off, and so her character ‘turned heel’ to use a wrestling term, and became evil (her new motivation: she was evil). On Christmas Day (merry Christmas Britain!) she was pushed through a fruit bowl and died.

It later transpired that Pauline’s death was actually caused by her new husband Joe hitting her with a frying pan, causing a brain haemorrhage. Rather than be crowned a hero by the public for this act, he instead leapt out of a window to his doom.

Dirty Den #1
Den Watts was one of the most popular characters in the soap’s early days. The Christmas Day special where he served divorce papers to his wife was watched by over 30 million people in 1986. Obviously this was a simpler time. Nowadays, that storyline would have had the divorce papers explode or something.

Den was the original bad boy owner of the Queen Victoria pub (other owners have included Frank Butcher, Steve Owen, Phil Mitchell and The Rani). Den was very naughty, and famously got his teenage daughter’s best friend pregnant.
It's like Terror Of The Autons all over again

All villains must die however, and Den finally met his end on a canal towpath, being shot by a bunch of daffodils.

Dirty Den #2
14 years later Den returned from the dead, revealing that when he was shot and fell into the canal he... somehow survived. He spent 18 months wandering about the Square being villainous before a cabal of the shows female characters tried to kill him. Rasputin-like, he took quite a while to die, before he finally succumbed and was buried in the cellar of the Queen Vic pub. Get out of that one Den!

Barry Evans
Barry was in the show for ten years, and no-one was really sure what to do with him. Was he a villain? A lovable goof? Clinically stupid? Whatever he was, his character somehow had lots of money from a car lot empire that spanned one entire car lot.


It was not to last however, for he fell into the clutches of Janine Butcher, the black widow of the square. This dumpy femme fatale decided she wanted all his money and so married him, thinking he was dying. It turned out he wasn’t, but then she made sure he did by pushing him off a cliff. It is one of the few soap crimes that someone has actually got away with, so if you want to kill someone ladies, make sure that they are fat and ugly.

Stella Crawford
Eastenders went through a period of characterising all women as insane delusional monsters obsessed with children. Ladies man Phil Mitchell’s wife, the professional lawyer Stella Crawford was revealed to be an insane, child-abusing psychopath who leapt to her death off the roof of a factory wearing a wedding dress and tiara, calling her husband ‘daddy’.

May Wright
In an attempt to further show that there is no such thing as a professional woman who is not insane, the character May Wright (who was a doctor) attempted to kidnap and drug little Dawn Swann so she could rip her unborn baby from her womb.

May was foiled in this plot and didn’t go to jail. Instead she returned a few months later wielding a crowbar and attempted to steal Dawn’s child again. This time though she was foiled when she blew up Dawn’s house, killing herself in the process.

This happens an awful lot

Johnny Allen
"Nya ha ha ha"

Eastenders had a macabre fascination with gangsters for a good while. One of the last of these was Johnny Allen, who inherited the title of Chief Gangster after murdering the previous Chief Gangster, Andy Hunter. (Andy was killed the same night as Dirty Den was killed for the second time. It was a big week for murders). He also had popular character Dennis Rickman killed, the monster.

Johnny isn’t on this list for how he died but how he lived. In his short time on the square he was involved in many ridiculous plots, from murder to arson to attempted murder to more murders to running a nightclub. Running the Square’s nightclub is pretty much a death sentence in this show, so his days were always numbered.

If this were a drawing, I would make fun of his hilariously small hand. As it is, I haven't a clue!

All this culminated in what was hilariously officially referred to as “Get Johnny Week” where the poor man’s Bruce Willis, Phil Mitchell and his similarly balding brother ran about in the woods for a week after Johnny, waving guns. This somehow ended up for Johnny going to jail for all the millions of murders he had committed.

Johnny shuffled off this mortal coil after the evil Shaun Slater (his motivation was that he was evil and crazy) shouted at him in jail, causing his heart to explode. It was a rather poor death, but even in death the murder train could not be stopped, since his last words of “Get Jake Moon” were interpreted by his cellmate not as “get popular recurring character and friend Jake Moon to me” but instead “murder Jake Moon to death”.

Eastenders hasn’t really had any gangster storylines since then.

There’s hundreds more deaths and I could be here all day talking about them. From more knifings to explosions to the humiliating ‘they were killed off-screen’, Eastenders has had them all. And hopefully will have many more to come!

The BBC website has a rather amusing death map that you can check out here if you want to learn more about the most dangerous place to live in Britain.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Skeletor's Secret Origin - The Search For Keldor

It's always nice to know how things begin. Why Optimus Prime doesn’t like Megatron. Where those freaky holograms from the Visionaries came from. Why I was in the ditch that morning wearing the chicken suit.

He-Man never got any sort of beginning or attempts at an explanation though. The audience was just thrown straight in to the crazy world of a big semi-naked man wrestling a blue skeleton. And to be fair the franchise was aimed at five-year-olds, so creating a complex back-story wasn’t really on anyone’s mind.

There was always that niggling question though – just who was Skeletor? Why was he so powerful, and what was his motivation besides ‘being a huge jerk’? There were no answers forthcoming in the classic series, though we did get close.

He-Man toys had the added value of a minicomic packaged with them, which helped advertise the toys and show how amazing they were. They really helped my little child-brain love He-Man, and I kept them all neat in my secret cupboard! (Ever kid needs a secret cupboard). The 1987 line of toys came with what is perhaps the most interesting minicomic produced – The Search For Keldor!

This was one of the few ones that I never owned as a kid. This was a shame since if I did, that would have meant I’d owned the accompanying figures and would be able to retire on the riches I’d receive from throwing them to eBay.

Straight away one of the most notable things is that this is drawn by the one and only Bruce Timm, of DC Animated Universe fame. It helps give a bit more respectability to the proceedings. Not that free comics that come with children’s toys aren’t respectable already of course!

The tale opens at midnight outside Eternia Tower. Obviously Mattel were pushing the super expensive Eternia play set as much as possible, mentioning it as much as they could. The play set was absolutely gigantic and so to afford it, parents would have to remortgage their houses. But it was okay, since then He-man could play in the magical towers of Eternia!
King Randor has gathered his most trusted friends together so that on this one day, as he does every year he may part the mystic veils and search for his lost brother Keldor who vanished after meddling with dark magic. A bit hokey, but there is something about the art and presentation that gives it the right sense of ‘epic.’. But who is entrusted to this task?

King Randor
Long term readers of my site may remember my dislike of this figure, and the nerd outrage that caused. I'd like to qualify that statement if I can. As a kid, the purpose of He-Man figures were to be gimmicky - the more gimmicky the figure, the more I liked it. Mattel knew this and made crazier and crazier toys, and I lapped them up. For Randor though, his only gimmick is that he looks like Randor from the cartoon, sans trousers. For many this is probably enough but I do wish they'd at least packaged him with some bizarre accessory like a catapult that shoots crowns.

Randor as many of you may know is the King of Eternia and Prince Adam's father (Prince Adam being, of course, He-Man's rather fey alter-ego). Despite the popularity of the cartoon and the use of characters such as Randor in the minicomics from early on, Mattel seemed very reluctant to make the cartoon-first characters such as Randor into actual figures. Perhaps then it is right that Randor be rather basic, more like the basic first year of toys than the gimmicky later run. Randor is a rather cool character, lets not forget that.

The same goes for the Sorceress. A cartoon character and a female? Mattel must have been forced into this at gunpoint. Looking back it does seem strange that they released these characters after the popular heyday of the cartoon but then I've never understood toy companies.

The first release of Teela came with a snake headdress and was generally used as the sorceress in the early minicomic, leading to lots of hilarious confusion down the line. In an attempt to follow the more popular cartoon continuity, one minicomic attempted to explain this by saying that Teela was a magic clone of the Sorceress and it was all the fault of magic. In later years Marvel would use this same technique to try to ruin their Spiderman line (see what I did there!)

Like all female He-Man figures, the Sorceress has gigantic thunder thighs. At least she wasn't yellow like they made Evil Lyn.

Prince Adam
Rather interestingly for this vital and dangerous task, Randor chooses Prince Adam to help him out. From a story point of view this is a touching character moment between father and son, as Randor shows the trust he puts in his only child, putting his life in his hands.

From a more cynical viewpoint, it is more likely that Mattel wanted to advertise the Prince Adam figure a bit more, since no-one really wanted a pink and mauve He-Man wearing stockings and with a real velvety feel.

Clamp Champ
Rounding out the team is Clamp Champ. As far as figures go he's probably one of the worst. It seems his main feature is that he is 'black'. That is pretty much it really. His ability is his clamp, which is a bit uninspired and more damningly any character could hold. He-Man was all about characters who were strange and wonderful, and there's not much about him that is unique.

Rather confusingly the minicomic calls him Klamp Champ (I assume that to be an earlier version of his name). Even more amusingly we never even see his clamp in use in the comic - instead he is made out to be Randor's bad-ass bodyguard who has super senses and can pluck arrows fired at him out of the air. He actually comes out the best in this comic which is impressive for what is arguably the worst toy.

Back to the plot, Skeletor has taken a special interest in the search for Randor’s brother. In fact, he announces that the very knowledge would be enough to destroy him! This is pretty much the fascinating crux of this issue – why is this so important to Skeletor? Skeletor doesn’t rely on his usual menagerie of useless henchmen for this mission – no, he uses his magical powers to search through time for the best evil warriors! It turns out that the best evil warriors are ghosts and ninjas, so there is nothing we didn’t know. Who is on team evil for this epic confrontation?

Most of the mini-comics used Skeletor’s latest outfit, this one uses his classic look. It may not be the most fun, but it is at least timeless and gives this piece a bigger ‘flare’ than it would have.

Of note, the first He-Man minicomic, He-Man And The Power Sword told us that Skeletor was from another dimension full of people who looked just like him. But it also had He-Man coming from a jungle tribe, a green Teela (who Skeletor wanted to marry) and Man-At-Arms living in a cave. So we can take that with a pinch of salt.

Ninjor is an inspiringly named ninja character. Imagine that. He is one of the few oriental He-Man figures, and with the amount of accessories can be very expensive to get complete. His excitement level really revolves around how much you like ninjas, to be blunt. He doesn’t have that much else going for him though at least he has an actual cloth costume which is pretty nifty.

Ah Scare-Glow! One of the hardest to find figures, Scare-Glow oozes class. He is a skeleton, he has a proper cloak and most importantly he can glow in the dark. I loved glow in the dark stuff – it seemed that in the eighties everything glowed in the dark. Which is odd since you barely see the gimmick used anymore. Perhaps it turned out the process was achieved using radon or crushed baby souls or something. Scare-Glow is also announced to be ‘The Evil Ghost Of Skeletor’. He’s a skeleton... could he be...? Nah...

Is Scare-Glow literally Skeletor’s ghost then? I can solve this conundrum here and now. Faker is also described as being the “Evil Robot Of Skeletor”. As you can see Faker really doesn’t look much like Skeletor unless you had really bad eyesight and were mashed off your head on White Lightning. So no, Scare-Glow is just a ghost that belongs to Skeletor.

Of course, Faker doesn’t really serve any useful purpose. His sole function is to be an evil robotic double of He-Man, so for some reason Skeletor made him blue with bright orange hair, and dressed him up in a bright orange version of his own armour. Even for a toyline aimed at really small children, the notion that Faker could pass himself off as He-Man was laughable. Rather than put all that effort into such an awful robot, Skeletor might as well have turned up at Castle Grayskull as himself and try to tell people he was He-Man. It would be just as convincing.
Then again, stranger things have happened, this was actually the second time Faker was released so obviously someone liked him.

Skeletor sends Ninjor and Scare-Glow after the good guys and sits back to watch through his magic orb. Part of me wonders why he didn’t send everyone out if it was so important, though knowing how much they usually bungle it was probably for the best.

Scare-Glow shows how badass he is. Luckily it is nighttime so he glows, and his scary glow makes Prince Adam too afraid to turn into He-Man. This is strange since if I were afraid, the very first thing I’d do would be to whip out my sword and strip to my loincloth. But the police say I’m not allowed to do that anymore.

Poor Ninjor gets no chance to shine however. His attempt at shooting an arrow at Clamp Champ is met by the hero snatching the arrow out of the air and punching Ninjor over a hill right into Scare-Glow. Scare-Glow is then promptly beaten up by He-Man. As I said, Clamp Champ comes across really well in this strip.

Skeletor watches in horror as once again his minions fail him, and what is worse, Randor is close to discovering the secret of Keldor’s fate! Skeletor is in such a rush to deal with this personally that he doesn’t have time to grab any decent henchmen and instead grudgingly takes Faker. Poor Faker, no-one thinks you’re any good!
I'm sure that wasn't Skeletor's plan you know...

Hilariously Randor is able to instantly see through Faker’s deception (he is of course bright blue and orange) and battle is joined – between Skeletor and Randor himself! Randor even uses his rubbish staff!
And then Randor murders Faker!

As Skeletor is about to finish off a weakened Randor, He-Man pops up and throws Skeletor into the mouth of the central tower of Eternia, where he then mysteriously vanishes. He-Man has a good laugh about Faker again (that poor robot!) and the heroes vow to return the next year to continue the search.
At the end, He-Man calls Randor ‘father’. Is that a mistake do we think?

So we have a nice comic with plenty of action and interesting characters for its short page count. The most interesting part of it of course is the implication is that Skeletor is in fact Keldor! It is never explicitly stated, but is implicit throughout. This was the thinking behind the comic, and had the He-Man line continued then we would have learnt more about Keldor’s back-story. Of course you could easily read it as Skeletor just being a jerk and be none the wiser. If you want any proof of that claim, check out the interviews with the writers over at He-Man.org where it is explicitly stated, here.

Keldor was then planned to be used as the villain in the aborted Powers of Grayskull line against the wizard He-Ro. That never panned out, but it is a tale for another time!

Skeletor as Randor’s brother (and thus He-Man’s uncle) makes a lot of sense, and has far more dramatic resonance than Skeletor being a random demon from another dimension. If he is Randor’s brother (albeit disfigured by black magic) then he may actually have a claim on the throne of Eternia so his constant bids for power make sense. And He-Man, who stops him at every turn is unbeknownst to him, his nephew!

I do really like this, and it works because there isn’t a firm explanation given. As it should be, the past is mysterious and can be interpreted. As we all know from the Star Wars prequels, questions are always more interesting than answers.

As a postscript, the link between Skeletor and Keldor was cemented in the new He-Man cartoon, where Keldor appeared as a blue-skinned villain who was transformed into Skeletor. Since he was blue there was no obvious relationship with Randor but the producers have since said that he was meant to be Randor’s half brother. So he was half-human, on his mother’s side.

The whole of the minicomic is available online, here.