A List of Stuff


Here’s a list of stuff on the internet. It’s an important list so please give it your undivided attention. No.4 is Astonishing and Life Changing while No.7 is ABSOLUTELY TERRIFYING!


1. Stuff

2. Stuff

3. Stuff

4. Astonishing and Life Changing

5. Stuff

6. Stuff


8. Stuff

9. Stuff

10. Stuff

PS… This is is big shout out to all those people that share those stupid bloody lists that clog up my Facebook timeline. Honestly, nobody reads them and no-one cares… Unless of course you’re reading this right now, in which case may the Lord have mercy on your soul! 😉


A Very Star Wars Christmas

Last week I showed you all a rather awesome ‘Death Star’ bauble that I’d chanced upon online!! This example of Star Wars Christmas brilliance got me thinking about other items of yuletide paraphernalia from that most esteemed and beloved of sci-fi franchises!

So off I went and gathered some of my favourite examples of seasonal genius to share with you today. And let me assure you that if these don’t get you in the Christmas mood then you are, quite literally, DEAD inside… Just saying!!

Christmas Clothing

Over the years there have been many items of fan-clothing produced that are Star Wars related. They usually range from the sublime to the downright ridiculous but a lot of time and effort seems to go into Christmas jumpers for some reason. They usually follow the theory that if you knit anything in red, green and white, and then stick Yoda’s head and a lightsaber on it you can get away with anything in a Star Wars/Christmas sty-lee!!

However my favourite Star Wars-themed Christmas jumper that I’ve ever had the pleasure to lay my eyes on is this little treasure –


The level of detail involved in this is just incredible and it’s a true thing of beauty… A wonder to behold!

Naturally I don’t think I’d ever get away with wearing something like this in the company of the wife or children, but maybe one to secrete away at the back of the wardrobe and then pull out, and parade around in… When they’ve left the house of course.

Christmas Decorations

Even though the ‘Death Star’ bauble would make a great addition to any tree over this festive period the decorations don’t stop there. Check out these paper ‘snowflakes’ highlighting the levels of creativity out there in the fan community –

04c_Dec 04b_Dec yoda-displayed

Christmas Toys

Star Wars and Lego have gone hand-in-hand for well over a decade now. In the months leading up to Christmas we tend to be treated to several different Lego Advent Calendars and for the last few years one of that number has been based around our favourite sci-fi movie franchise.

One of the best parts of this calendar is the inclusion of a Christmas-themed Star Wars minifigure that tends to capture one of the more surreal aspects of the festive season –

03_ChristmasLegovader 03_ChristmasLegoYoda

Now if that doesn’t twist your melon I don’t know what else will 🙂

Christmas Food *

Up until now I thought that THIS was the greatest AT-AT themed picture… EVER!!!


However that may well have changed after I discovered this heap of gingerbread goodness –

01_GingerBread AT-AT

Nom nom nom!!!

* I feel it’s important to note that I wasn’t considering the greyhound as a source of Christmas food… I mean, there’s nowhere near enough meat on the bloody thing for a start!!

Christmas ‘Wrong Franchise’

I know that I’ve concentrated on Star Wars for the purpose of this post and I’m painfully aware that there are fans of other sci-fi franchises out there! So, not wanting to miss out on some of the other greats… Here’s one for the Star Trek fans!!!

05_Star Trek Jumpers

Merry Christmas!!!

“That’s no moon…”

As I write this we’re 20 sleeps away from Christmas. My children are climbing the walls already with excitement (well, Hettie is at least) and all is in place ready for the big push towards December 25th!

We’ve already taken the customary steps of getting the decorations up early as well, so it’s safe to say that Casa Bates is pretty much at ‘Def Com X-Mas’!!

Putting up the tree and decorating it is my only given task at this time of year, and it’s one I take a lot of pride in. Making sure the tree looks good is of primary importance to me and I never feel that it comes up wanting in any way, shape or form!

Until this year…

This year I spotted a little something that made me realise that whatever time and energy I put into making our tree look extra special, it’s always going to come up short… There will always be a certain something missing!! Check this out and you’ll understand…


That’s right, a “fully armed and operational” bauble!!

Now I’m no fool (stop sniggering at the back) and I know that there’s no way that I’ll ever sneak this past Amanda and into a ‘pride of place’ position adorning our tree. This I accept!

But what it unfortunately means is that our Christmas tree, in my eyes at least, will never, ever be complete again. It will always be missing that ‘little something’ and will always feel a little barer because of it!

Don’t get me wrong – it still looks great! But wouldn’t it look just that little bit better with a Death Star bauble dangling from one of its branches??

You know I’m right!


A special seasonal ‘thank you’ goes out to Ken and his blog Ooooooh… Shiny! (where I originally found the picture) and to Masa over at 50 Steps 100 Steps for designing the bauble in the first place. Sterling work, sir!!

Happy Christmas and May the Force be with you… Always!

The Man in the Arena

In peace nothing so becomes a man as modest stillness and humility; but when the blast of war blows in our ears, then imitate the action of the tiger; stiffen the sinews, disguise fair nature with hard favour’d rage. . .

– William Shakespeare, Henry V, Act III, Scene 1

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belong to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again. Who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause. Who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

– Theodore Roosevelt, The Man in the Arena

What the ancients called a clever fighter is one who not only wins, but excels in winning with ease.

– Sun Tzu, The Art of War

In your face, Candy Crush, IN YOUR FACE!! I am Andy Bates, Crusher of Candies, and I have bested YOU!! You hear me sonny?!? I have BESTED YOU!!!


– Andy Bates, “Made it, Ma!! Top of the world!!”


The Interest Awakens

With all kinds of crazy affecting the general populace in the form of ‘Black Friday’ many may have forgotten (or perhaps not even been aware in the first place) that something else was going down across the internet today.

Didn’t know about that? Well shame on you!!!

I remember a dark night, not unlike tonight, back in November 1998. A night where I arrived home from work at the DHSS… A night where I parked myself down in from of my first PC, connected onto the internet, and then proceeded to wait for over an hour while the Quicktime player downloaded the trailer for The Phantom Menace over the PCs 56k modem!

This was THE moment I’d been waiting for! Waiting for 15 years! And boy was I not disappointed! I spent three hours downloading that same trailer to save on my hard drive, just so that I could watch it over, and over, and over… Which is exactly what I did!

Whatever your feelings might be around the movie itself, the trailer for The Phantom Menace was a benchmark of excitement and sheer anticipation that very little has come close to since!

When news that the trailer for J.J. Abrams new Star Wars movie was to debut today I was pretty much nonchalant about the whole thing. I’ve learned how to temper my expectations with regards to anything Star Wars related these days… Experience dating back over 15 years ago has forced this upon me!

So when I watched the trailer for the first time earlier today on my phone (ahhhh, the wonders of living in an area with great 4G coverage) I was pretty nonplussed. I watched it again about half an hour later. Mmmmm… so-so!

I’ve watched it another half dozen times since and I have to say that John Williams has worked his magic on me once again. That musical bastard of a genius has once more won me over…

From THAT moment the Millennium Falcon erupts skywards; heaven-bound over the dunes of Tatooine it had me. Damn it really had me!!!

Many fans will be lighting up the internet with chatter about the Light Saber sword wielding Sith trudging through the snow-covered forest, a money shot not unlike Darth Maul’s ‘double-bladed’ Light Saber reveal from The Phantom Menace trailer 16 years earlier. Other fans will be turning cartwheels over the appearance of the Falcon going toe-to-toe with a couple of TIE Fighters!

But for me it was this… Looking at it now it’s a thing of pure beauty!! I’ll have to slow down as I might start getting overly emotional, but if you’re of a certain age and a certain mindset, don’t you dare tell me you don’t feel it too…


My Karate Kid blog header will soon be coming down and this will be taking it’s place!

I’ve not seen enough extra footage yet to be completely won over, but if you ask me good ol’ JJ looks as if he’s got it right! The tone of this teaser gives way to thoughts of the original trilogy, and if JJ succeeds in giving us at least that much, then it’s a win in my book!

And one last thing… I don’t know about you but was that Cumberbatch doing the narrating voice-over?!?! Hey, who cares about Kim Kardashian’s naked ass, THIS is what will break the internet!!

On ‘Why’ Baseball

Some of you who know me well enough will know that I’m a big fan of baseball!

This is a pretty unusual occurrence for someone from this side of the Atlantic, but there are plenty of us out there, trust me! It’s not something I widely broadcast, nor do I hide it away like a dirty little secret, but you do get some pretty strange look when you explain to people where your interests lie… Usually its in the form of an open-mouthed gape, as the cogs creak to motion to ask that single question – “Why??”

Growing up in the 80′s in the UK I learned to worship ALL things American! I lived my life stuck to the TV screen, absorbing anything that the US could throw at me – The A-Team, Knight Rider, Airwolf… even Streethawk! There were also great comedies such as M.A.S.H, Cheers and The Cosby Show! Later came a steady influx of US movies to keep me going through my late teens and into my student years! I completely fell in love with America and its culture!

It was only natural that a love of US Sports would grow organically from this! But this was true to up to a point, as it was only really the NBA that grabbed my attention at the time!

I remember watching highlights of the NBA Finals in the latter part of the 80′s, loving the hard, work man-like graft of the Celtics over the flashier ‘Showtime’ ball played by the Lakers!  I remember booing at the brutish behaviour of the Pistons! I also remember being pretty nonplussed by the early exploits of a pair from Chicago by the names of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. “What’s the big deal about these guys?” I recall thinking to myself… Neither of them could hold a torch to Larry Bird! “What are they ever going to achieve with their careers??”.

Baseball didn’t come along for another decade. As I got older  I moved away from basketball and started to appreciate what the MLB had to offer. Over the years I steadily immersed myself in Baseball folklore and history. Thanks to the exemplary documentary making skills of Ken Burns* I started to appreciate where Baseball came from and why it means so much to the American people – why it’s so ingrained in American culture!

So started a love affair with a sport that remains to this day.

Because I’m a hoarder by design the notion of baseball card collecting came pretty naturally as well. This interest coincided with the emergence of eBay in the late 90’s, making the acquisition of the cards themselves so much easier.

This hobby carried on up until Erin was born in 2001 but I picked it up again on a small-scale basis around 2011. In 2012 I started my very first blog – The Wax Fantastic – and I started to make new friends in the collecting community all over the world!

Today marks the first post on my new site – The Baseball Card Hub – a mini-blog dedicated to looking at new and upcoming baseball card products and reviews. Feel free to check it out my clicking here.

The purpose of this post is to give you a small inkling as to where my love of baseball comes from. Over the course of time I’ll be using this blog to bring you stories of baseball past and present and, of course, baseball cards! This is just a heads-up, just a warning in advance before you start asking the question – “Why the hell does he keep going on about baseball?”

And before I go I’ll leave you with a picture of All-Star outfielder, future Hall of Famer and the man who possessed perhaps the sweetest swing in baseball history – Ken Griffey Jr.


* As an aside, if you ever get the chance then please watch the documentary Baseball by Ken Burns. Click on the link and it will take you to the Wikipedia page so you can read about it. What Burns does is take us on a journey from post-Civil War America all the way up to the 1980’s, telling not just the story of baseball as a sport, but also exploring major themes along the lines of racism, labour relations and the relationship itself between ‘The National Pastime’ and American society in general! Not only is it fascinating viewing but it might also change your opinion of this game that I love so much!

Felines Do The Funniest Things

Two things off the bat…

  1. I really don’t like cats!!
  2. Our family owns three cats!!

Obviously I’d never wish any real harm on our feline amigos, but there’s just something about a cat’s attitude that rubs me up the wrong way. I think it’s the utter disdain, bordering on complete contempt, that they show for us humans. That kind of look that they give you – a stare that bores deep into your very soul, before they turn their head away as if to say “You know what? I really can’t be arsed with you!”.

I put part of it down to the fact that they resent that they can’t open a tin of cat food without our assistance.

It’s in their eyes… Honestly, you can see it!

Many a time I’ve looked down during feeding time at Casa Bates and thought “That’s right, you little bastard! You can revel in your self-sufficiency and high standards of personal cleanliness all you like, but let’s see you pull the lid off this tin of Kit-e-Kat!!”

Please not that this blog is not sponsored or endorsed by Kit-e-Kat and that other cat foods are available

The fact that cats can only barely stomach their ‘primate’ overlords puts us humans in a very precarious position should the day come when the cats eventually inherit the Earth. Seriously… read issue 18 of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman and you’ll understand!! As a result I’m always keen to keep on their good side, prostituting myself for their affection and eternal gratitude.

That said, I’m not adverse to having a good giggle at a cats expense should they do something particularly stupid!! The following video has done the rounds on Facebook, Twitter, and various other forms of social media, so it’s probably something you’ve come across before. However it still doesn’t stop it being ridiculously funny, allowing us to poke fun at our feline friends without then really knowing about it!

And that can never be a bad thing… can it!!

It your face cats!!!!! In your face!!!!