Bruce Springsteen seems to be one of those guys that you either love or hate. He’s got some of the most recognizable classic pop/rock songs in the world, from “Born to Run” to “Dancing in the Dark” to, of course, “Born in the USA.” Often misunderstood, his songs are used by politicians (and they usually receive a cease and desist letter from his attorneys).
One of my favorite songs from the Boss, however, is his take on the legendary Christmas song, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”
Whether you enjoy Springsteen’s music or not, hopefully you’ll enjoy these “fun cards” of the Boss and his backing bad, the E Street Band.
There was a bit of a shakeup in 1975, with three new members of the E Street Band…
A big addition came in 1984, though his studio debut with the band came a little later…
I probably won’t be posting any more before Wednesday, so let me just take a second to say to all readers of The Writer’s Journey, MERRY CHRISTMAS AND THANK YOU FOR READING!
I wasn’t planning to post any Christmas gift ideas until at least November 1, but I don’t know how long this deal will be available so I’m posting now…
Those who have been long-time readers know that I love horror movies, especially the older stuff like this. Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy…it’s all here. Even my favorite, The Creature from the Black Lagoon. I cannot wait to have this set in my hands (Saturday) and start watching.
Here is the almost full list of movies included…
I say “almost full list” because there is a thirty-first film included as a bonus feature: the 1931 Spanish version of Dracula. In addition to all the movies, there are documentaries and commentaries and archival footage and theatrical trailers…it’s packed with extra features.
I’ve already ordered mine, and can’t wait to start binge-watching. I don’t know how long the price will stay this low (more than half-off the regular price); order now so you don’t miss out! Your horror-loving friends will love you to death!
I didn’t run out of ideas when doing my “Christmas gift ideas” posts, but I’ve had other things going on. I appreciate all who have clicked on the links so far, as I get a tiny kickback from Amazon and can put it toward things that I really shouldn’t be spending actual money on…but “gift card” money, that’s a whole different ballgame. Even if you don’t buy the products I post, if you click one of my links before browsing and making your purchase I get a little credit.
Perhaps the biggest hard rock band of all time is Led Zeppelin, and not without reason. Not only is “Stairway to Heaven” a masterpiece, but nearly every song on the first four or five albums is perfectly put together (even if they were not all written by the band). For these lists, I’ve made three sections. First we have other projects of the members of Led Zeppelin. Second we have artists that sound like they were inspired by Plant, Page, Jones, and Bonham. And in many cases, they were. Finally, tribute albums to one of the greatest classic hard rock bands in history.
Zeppelin members’ other projects
- Lead singer Robert Plant has released numerous solo albums; the most recent is 2017’s Carry Fire. He also collaborated with Zep-mate Jimmy Page and classic rock guitarist Jeff Beck in 1984 on The Honeydrippers, Volume One. In 1994, he joined Jimmy Page for an MTV special and released No Quarter, followed by Walking Into Clarksdale in 1998. In 2007, Plant teamed up with bluegrass singer Alison Krauss for Raising Sand.
- Guitarist Jimmy Page’s post-Zeppelin output is not as straightforward as Plant’s. He started by recording the soundtrack for Death Wish II, but that one is going to cost you a pretty penny as it is no longer in print. His only non-soundtrack solo album, Outrider, did not perform well. One other soundtrack was recorded for Kenneth Anger’s Lucifer Rising, but is not currently available unless you want to drop nearly $400 on the vinyl. In 1985, Page contributed to Roy Harper’s Whatever Happened to Jugula? 1985 also saw the self-titled debut of The Firm, a supergroup featuring Page, Bad Company/Free vocalist Paul Rodgers, bass extraordinaire Tony Franklin, and then-future-AC/DC drummer Chris Slade. A follow-up record was release by The Firm in 1986, Mean Business. In 1999, the guitarist joined the Black Crowes for two shows; most of those recordings were released in 2000 under the title Live At the Greek, but singer Chris Robinson was not enthused about the performance.
- Bassist John Paul Jones wrote the soundtrack for the movie Scream For Help, which also includes contributions from Page and Yes vocalist Jon Anderson. In 1994 he appeared on the album The Sporting Life with Diamanda Galas. Jones has also released two solo albums, Zooma (1999) and The Thunderthief. In 2009, Jones joined a supergroup with Josh Homme and Dave Grohl; unfortunately only one album has been released, the self-titled Them Crooked Vultures. Lastly, Jones contributed to two records released by the band Seasick Steve, You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks and Hubcap Music.
Artists that sound an awful lot like Led Zeppelin
- Greta Van Fleet is the band getting a lot of attention right now, as they should. They have taken the rock world by storm and don’t appear to be slowing down. From the Fires was released last November, and Anthem of the Peaceful Army had an October release this year. Watch this band closely as their star is still on the rise.
- Rival Sons have been around for several years, but is just now starting to gain some traction in the mainstream. You may have heard “Do Your Worst” from the soon-to-be-released Feral Roots on the radio, but the title track from 2011’s Pressure and Time really exhibits the Zeppelin connection.
- Wolfmother‘s debut over a decade ago exploded on the scene, but then the band imploded. Three more albums have been released since the debut, but none have sold as well.
- Zebra gigged for years playing Zeppelin songs before releasing their self-titled debut in 1983, and while there are some enduring classics on the record, it is not a cover-to-cover masterpiece like most of Zep’s catalog.
- Kingdom Come is often cited as a hair metal version of Led Zeppelin, and Lenny Wolf’s vocals were certainly reminiscent of Robert Plant. The songwriting isn’t going to land them in the Rock Hall, but Kingdom Come has proven to be popular enough to release thirteen albums since 1988.
- Whitesnake may be the most all-around Zeppelin sound-alike. David Coverdale’s vocals are spot-on. Whoever is playing guitar, be it John Sykes or Steve Vai or Doug Aldrich, does a great job laying down some Jimmy Page-like riffs.
- Coverdale/Page may have been a slap in Robert Plant’s face for refusing to do a Zeppelin reunion in the early ’90s. Guitarist Jimmy Page recruited David Coverdale, one of the most Robert Plant-ish singers around, to record an album of new tracks. The band probably would have lasted more than just one album had Page been able to convince John Paul Jones or Jason Bonham to participate.
- Speaking of Jason Bonham, he had a band in the late ’80s and early ’90s called Bonham featuring a Robert Plant clone, Daniel MacMaster, on vocals. Their most popular (and most Zeppelinish) song was “Wait For You” from 1989’s The Disregard of Timekeeping.
- In the Name of My Father: The Zepset (Live from Electric Ladyland) by the Jason Bonham Band
- Un-Led-Ed, 5,000,000*, It’s Not Unusual and other releases by Dread Zeppelin
- Great Zeppelin: A Tribute to Led Zeppelin by Great White
- Encomium: A Tribute to Led Zeppelin featuring performances by 4 Non Blondes, Hootie and the Blowfish, Sheryl Crow, Stone Temple Pilots, Big Head Todd And The Monsters, Duran Duran, Blind Melon, Cracker, Helmet With David Yow, Rollins Band, Never The Bride, and Robert Plant & Tori Amos
- No Quarter: An All-Star Tribute to Led Zeppelin featuring Dweezil Zappa, Walter Trout, Pat Travers, Rick Derringer and members of Thin Lizzy, Motorhead, Rainbow, Deep Purple, Great White, Wet Willie, Nazareth, Toto, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Warrant, and Foreigner
- World’s Greatest Metal Tribute to Led Zeppelin featuring members of Iron Maiden, Candlebox, Slaughter, Cinderella, L.A. Guns, Quiet Riot, Faster Pussyct, Warrant, Bang Tango, Mötley Crüe, Love/Hate, BulletBoys, Hurricane, Kix, and Great White
- A Tribute To Led Zeppelin: Livin, Lovin, Played featuring acoustic renditions by female singers Nikki Boyer, Patricia Maertens, Aya Peard, Leslie King, Katherine Ramirez, Terra Gold, Melissa Quade, Kirsten Laiken, Kimberly Bosso, Lisa Ferguson, Tracy McMillan, and Mor Koren
- Songs of Led Zeppelin All Blues’d Up (This Ain’t No Tribute Series) featuring Eric Gales, Matt Tutor, Derek Trucks, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Otis Rush, Magic Slim, Billy Branch, James Cotton, Chris Thomas King, Clarence Gatemouth Brown, Joe Louis Walker, Otis Clay, Carl Weathersby, and Robert Lockwood Jr.
- Pickin’ On Zeppelin featuring bluegrass performances by Dennis Caplinger and Mark Thornton
- The String Quartet Tribute to Led Zeppelin
- Dub Tribute to Led Zeppelin
I’m glad I can read. So many books published over the years have made an impact on me, both as a child and as an adult, it would be impossible to list them all. I recommend starting a library, however small, of books that you love and add to it at least once a year (more if possible). If you have small children, start a library for them with Dr. Suess and Curious George and Little Golden Books. If you have grade school kids, grab some Harry Potter or Percy Jackson books. For high schoolers…well, good luck. I’m blessed with children who love to read, but I know others really struggle getting teens to sit down with a book.
Take a look at the list below. Some of these suggestions are for younger readers, while others are intended for more mature minds. What is missing from your library? What books would you add to the list?
- The Ralph S. Mouse Complete Set: The Mouse and the Motorcycle, Runaway Ralph, and Ralph S. Mouse by Beverly Cleary
- Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
- Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
- A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
- Falling Up by Shel Silverstein
- The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
- The Baseball Card Adventures by Dan Gutman
- Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Box Set by Alvin Schwartz with illustrations by Stephen Gammell
- The League of Seven by Alan Gratz
- Lord of the Flies by William Golding
- A Separate Peace by John Knowles
- Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
- Complete Tales and Poems by Edgar Allan Poe
- The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft edited by Leslie S. Klinger
- Night Gallery and Night Gallery 2 by Rod Serling
I mentioned Thundercats yesterday, so I might as well throw a few ideas out there that the Thundercats fan in your life will love.
- Original Series: Season 1, Volume 1
- Original Series: Season 1, Volume 2
- Original Series: Season 2, Volume 1
- Original Series: Season 2, Volume 2
- 2011 Reboot
- A Cat’s Tail (One-Shot Comic)
- Reclaiming Thundera
- The Return
- Dogs of War
- Hammer Hand’s Revenge
- Enemy’s Pride
- Thundercats/Battle of the Planets (One-Shot Comic)
- Superman/Thundercats (One-Shot Comic)
- Origins: Heroes and Villains (One-Shot Comic)
- Origins: Villains and Heroes (One-Shot Comic)
Toys and Collectibles
- Funko POP! [Most of these are retired figures and insanely expensive. If you buy these for people on your list, tell me how to become your friend!]: Lion-O, Lion-O (flocked, 2014 SDCC Exclusive), Panthro, Cheetara, Tygra, Snarf, or Mumm-Ra
- Funko Savage World [Beware of the quality of these figures, as several reviews state they break as soon as they are taken out of the package!]: Lion-O, Panthro, Mumm-Ra, or Slithe
- Funko Vynl: Lion-O + Mumm-ra or Panthro + Cheetara
- The Loyal Subjects Blind Box
- Series 1 (2012 SDCC Exclusive), Series 2, Series 3, or Series 4
- Thundercats Logo T-shirt
- Thundercats Characters T-shirt
- Mumm-Ra Logo T-shirt
- Lion-O Infant Onesie
- Feline Rhapsody T-shirt
- Thundercats Logo Baseball Cap
Other odds & ends
- Sword of Omens
- Sword of Omens (Dagger-sized)
- Lion-O’s Claw Shield
- Panthro’s Nunchucks
- Tygra’s Whip
- Light Switch Cover
- Sword of Omens Keychain
- Logo Keychain
- Snarf Keychain
- Perfect for fans of parodies like Garbage Pail Kids: Thunderbrats Trading Cards
The original trilogy is classic. The prequel trilogy, not so much. J.J. Abrams’ first entry into the third trilogy restored the faith for fans of the classics, but Rian Johnson shredded that renewed fandom in less than three hours. Ron Howard’s Solo was excellent (ignore the negative reviews from so-called “fans” who never even bothered to see it). Abrams is back in the driver’s seat for the ninth and final episode of the Skywalker saga, due next year, and I am hopeful and optimistic that he will finish well.
While the Star Wars bandwagon has slowed considerably, there are still many gifts suitable for those who have not abandoned that galaxy far, far away. Here are a few ideas to get you going.
- Episodes IV-VI: The original trilogy
- Episodes I-III: The prequel trilogy
- Episode VII: The Force Awakens
- Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
- Solo: A Star Wars Story
- Clone Wars
- Ewok Adventures
- If you already own the movies, you may want to grab the John Williams soundtracks for use in the car or office.
- William Shakespeare’s The Phantom of Menace: Star Wars Part the First by Ian Doescher
- William Shakespeare’s The Clone Army Attacketh: Star Wars Part the Second by Ian Doescher
- William Shakespeare’s Tragedy of the Sith’s Revenge: Star Wars Part the Third by Ian Doescher
- William Shakespeare’s Verily, A New Hope: Star Wars Part the Fourth by Ian Doescher (I cannot recommend books 4-6 highly enough. Easily some of my favorite Star Wars books ever. The prequels suffer from the lack of quality of the source material, while the novelty may have worn off a bit by “Part the Seventh.” But parts 4-6 are must-reads.)
- William Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back: Star Wars Part the Fifth by Ian Doescher
- William Shakespeare’s The Jedi Doth Return: Star Wars Part the Sixth by Ian Doescher
- William Shakespeare’s The Force Doth Awaken: Star Wars Part the Seventh by Ian Doescher
- William Shakespeare’s Jedi the Last: Star Wars Part the Eighth by Ian Doescher
- Star Wars: The Classic Newspaper Comics Vol. 1, Vol. 2, and Vol. 3
- Star Wars: The Original Marvel Years Omnibus Vol. 1, Vol. 2, and Vol. 3
- Star Wars: Droids & Ewoks Omnibus
- The Star Wars Cook Book: Wookiee Cookies and Other Galactic Recipes
- There are hundreds, if not thousands, of Star Wars books to choose from. DOn’t click here until you can spare a few hours to go down the Jaxxon hole.
Toys and Collectibles
- The Art of Star Wars Comics: 100 Collectible Postcards
- Lego Sets
- Action Figures
- Funko POP!
- Funko Vynl
Other odds & ends
By the Power of Grayskull! He-Man has one of the strongest fan bases of any 1980s cartoon series, and the merchandise available to choose from is insane. Here are just a handful of suggestions for the He-Fan or She-Raver in your life.
- He-Man and the Masters of the Universe: Season 1
- He-Man and the Masters of the Universe: Season 2
- He-Man & She-Ra: A Christmas Special
- Masters of the Universe motion picture starring Dolph Lundgren
- She-Ra, Princess of Power: Season One, Vol. 1
- She-Ra, Princess of Power: Season One, Vol. 2
- She-Ra, Princess of Power: Season Two
- The New Adventures of He-Man, Vol. 1
- The New Adventures of He-Man, Vol. 2
- He-Man and the Masters of the Universe: The Complete 200X Series
- He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Minicomic Collection
- He-Man and the Masters of the Universe: A Character Guide and World Compendium
- He-Man and She-Ra: A Complete Guide to the Classic Animated Adventures
- Art of He Man and the Masters of the Universe
- He-Man and the Masters of the Universe: The Newspaper Comic Strips
- How He-Man Mastered the Universe: Toy to Television to the Big Screen
- The Art of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Limited Edition
- He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Vol. 1
- He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Vol. 2: Origins of Eternia
- He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Vol. 3
- He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Vol. 4: What Lies Within
- He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Vol. 5: The Blood of Grayskull
- He-Man: The Eternity War Vol. 2
- He-Man: The Eternity War Vol. 2
- DC Universe Vs. Masters of the Universe
Toys and Collectibles
- Funko POP: Battle Armor He-Man, Battle Armor Skeletor, Man-At-Arms, Merman, Trap Jaw, Evil Lyn, Stratos, Orko, Hordak, Beast Man, Moss Man, or if you want to spend a ton of money, He-Man or She-Ra
- Funko VYNL: He-Man + Trap Jaw, Prince Adam + Cringer, Beast Man + Sorceress
- Super 7 ReAction Figures: Battle Armor He-Man, Battle Armor Skeletor, Trap Jaw, Teela, Zodac, Tri-Klops, Kobra Khan, Stratos, She-Ra & Hordak (SDCC Exclusive)
- Mega Construx Heroes: He-Man, Teela, Beast Man, Faker
- Mattel Minis: He-Man & Skeletor (2013 SDCC Exclusive), Battle Armor He-Man & Mer-Man, Zodac & Beast Man, Scareglow & Stratos, Faker & Man-At-Arms, King He-Man & Clawful
- The Loyal Subjects Masters The Universe Blindbox
- Or just browse everything that is available at the moment on Amazon, but let me warn you, some of the prices get a little crazy!
- Vintage MOTU
- “I Have The Power!”
- “How You Doin’?”
- “Ripped and Equipped”
- “Casual Friday”
- “Blink If You Want Me”
- “Call the Vet, These Puppies are Sick”
- “Eternia Gym”
- Skeletor (Misfits parody)
- He-Man and She-Ra Faux Christmas Sweater
- Filmation She-Ra and Swiftwind
- Filmation “She-Ra, Princess of Power”
- Dreamworks “She-Ra Rules”
- DreamWorks She-Ra/Adora Character Split
P.S. — If anyone wants to get me something for Christmas (because I’m not spending this type of money on a CD), I would love the Filmation Original Soundtrack. $45 just seems a little steep to me.
A few years ago I published a list of books that might interest those who dream of becoming professional comic book writers and/or artists. It was one of the most popular posts on the site, and continues to receives several hits each year as Christmas time nears. I have decided to expand the list since several new books have been released in the interim. I have not reviewed all of these, but would love to add a few to my small collection, especially the second and third “Regrettable” books in the last section.
Writing and drawing for comic books is a true art form, and the skills needed to succeed are much different than what a short story writer or novelist might utilize. Here are some books to help those who are exploring their talents in the comic art form.
- Words For Pictures by Brian Michael Bendis
- Creating Graphic Novels by Sarah Beach
- Mastering Comics by Jessica Abel & Matt Madden
- Drawing Words and Writing Pictures by Jessica Abel & Matt Madden
- The Art of Comic Book Writing by Mark Kneece
- Foundations in Comic Book Art by John Paul Lowe
- The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing Comics by Comfort Love and Adam Withers
We just lost one of the all-time great names in the world of comic books. The late Stan Lee contributed to a handful of books for creators.
- How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way by Stan Lee and John Buscema
- Stan Lee’s How to Draw Superheroes by Stan Lee and illustrated by Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby, Alex Ross, John Buscema
- Stan Lee’s How to Write Comics by Stan Lee and illustrated by Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby, Alex Ross, Gil Kane
Maybe your aspiring artist is tired of being an aspiring artist and wants to start putting pencil to paper. Here are some blank comic book templates to get them started.
- Blank Comic Book Notebook: Create Your Own Comic Book Strip, Variety of Templates For Comic Book Drawing, (Super Hero Comics)
- Blank Comic Book For Kids : Create Your Own Comics With This Comic Book Journal Notebook
- Blank Comic Book (Draw Your Own Comics): A Large Notebook and Sketchbook for Kids and Adults to Draw Comics and Journal
- Blank Comic Book: 7.5 x 9.25, 130 Pages, comic panel,For drawing your own comics, idea and design sketchbook,for artists of all levels
Most writers who dream of working in comics love to read them as well, so they may also enjoy the books below.
- The League of Regrettable Superheroes by Jon Morris
- The Legion of Regrettable Supervillains by Jon Morris
- The League of Regrettable Sidekicks by Jon Morris
- The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen by Hope Nicholson
- Super Weird Heroes:Outrageous But Real! edited by Craig Yoe
- Super Weird Heroes: Preposterous But True! edited by Craig Yoe
- DC Comics: A Visual History by Daniel Wallace
- Marvel Encyclopedia by Matt Forbeck
- Marvel Year by Year by Peter Sanderson
- Superman: The Ultimate Guide to the Man of Steel by Daniel Wallace
- Spider-Man Chronicle by Alan Cowsill and Matthew K. Manning
I became a Chicago Cubs fan in 1989 when my dad took me to Wrigley Field. Rick Sutcliffe pitched that day against the Montreal Expos; Jerome Walton, Andre Dawson, Ryne Sandberg, Mark Grace all played. And my favorite baseball player at the time, Shawon Dunston, was the shortstop. The vibe of the ballpark, sitting in the bleachers, just the whole experience enthralled me. I rooted for the Cubs through the end of high school, but the strike of 1994 soured me on baseball in general. I have since come back to love the game for what it is, and root for the Cubs when they make the playoffs. The Reds are my #1 team, but the Cubs are a pretty close second.
The Cubs will always be one of the more popular teams in baseball, and as such, there are a lot of choices when it comes to Christmas gifts. Here are a few suggestions for the Cubs fan in your life.
- Beyond Bartman, Curses, & Goats: 108 Reasons It’s Been 108 Years by Chris Neitzel
- Wrigley Field: The Long Life and Contentious Times of the Friendly Confines by Stuart Shea
- The Cubs Fan’s Guide to Happiness by George Ellis
- Wrigley Field: An Oral and Narrative History of the Home of the Chicago Cubs by Ira Berkow
- Essential Games of the Chicago Cubs DVD set
Most people don’t think of horror during the Christmas season, but for the true horror nut the genre is a year-round obsession. If you have someone on your to-buy-for list that thinks Halloween should be a month-long holiday rather than one day, here are some suggestions.
- The Stephen King Compainion by George Beahm
- Stephen King novels (classics like The Shining, It, Pet Sematary; newer titles such as Revival, 11/22/63)
- In the Shadow of Edgar Allan Poe: Classic Tales of Terror, 1816-1914
- Essential Horror Movies by Michael Mallory
- Pumpkin Cinema by Nathaniel Tolle
- Vuckovic’s Horror Miscellany by Jovanka Vuckovic