Gift Ideas for the Gardener on Your List

Solar Lights In The Garden

Solar Lights In The Garden

Solar Lights In The Garden

With the holidays almost upon us it might be a good idea to provide some gift ideas for the gardener in your life. The weather outside might be frightful but that doesn’t mean you can’t plan some heartscaping for the garden. Below find some ideas for the garden to fit almost any budget.

Little solar lights transform a garden into a magical wonderland when the sun goes down.

These little lights in the shapes of butterfly, dragonfly and humming bird make an evening on the patio next to the garden a magical and relaxing event. At around $20 for a set of four they are a delightful addition to any garden.

Also this solar light wind chime is very whimsical and would be fun in a garden setting.

But who am I kidding. I discovered something for the garden on Amazon that makes my little nerd heart jump for joy.

Starting off with a little dragon sculpture for your patio wall or really anyplace you think you can wedge him in. This cute little dragon comes in at $40.

The Astronaut at Ease is really fun and would be awesome in any garden or on a desk. It’s turning your garden into a sci-fi adventure! A bit more spendy than the wall dragon at $85 but so much fun.

Ok not necessarily for the garden but this Frost Dragon ornament is gorgeous and at $17 it’s very reasonably priced.

If you have a more practical bent this little garden caddy is always useful and at $10 it won’t break the bank.

These little kneeler pads are a great gift too. As a gardener you are always kneeling down to pull out this or that weed, or check that plant or harvest this or that vegetable and while these may not be glamorous they are incredibly useful. And they’re just $9 on Amazon.

Or there are a variety of raised bed kits which could be a great help to a gardener looking to go to raised beds.

Then there is a motion detecting solar light for gardening just a few minutes later into the evening.

Of course what really takes the cake, not just for wow factor but also for price is this little beauty:

Sure it costs more than $500 but it’s a scale model of an Apatosaurus. That’s amazing.

You can get the more modest Camarasaurus for around $300 or so.

And then there’s this:

Totally awesome with a totally awesome price to match.

Yeah the scale model dinos are expensive but they are unexpected, have an unmatched wow factor and your garden will never be the same.

The Valley of Gwangi Ray Harryhausen’s Last Dinosaur Movie

Movie Poster for The Valley of Gwangi

Movie Poster for The Valley of Gwangi

Movie Poster for The Valley of Gwangi

The Valley of Gwangi 1969
Director: Jim O’Connolly as James O’Connolly
Writers: William Bast, Julian More, Willis H. O’Brian (earlier film Gwangi uncredited)
Starring: James Franciscus, Gila Golan, Richard Carlson
Stop Motion Animation: Ray Harryhausen

**Spoilers–whoop, whoop–Spoilers***

I enjoy watching old monster movies. Not only are they fun to watch, they usually contain very little gore. They are by nature violent and yet the kind of violence one sees in an old monster movie is somehow not as terrible as the kind of violence we see today in movies, and not even horror movies but such offerings as Gangster squad or any cop movie these days. I also enjoy seeing what various cultures were like 50 or 60 years ago. The Valley of Gwangi is a cowboys vs. Dinosaurs movie. In 1969 that idea could have flown. The stop motion animation is top notch, as you would expect from Ray Harryhausen.

The Valley of Gwangi is based around the idea of a valley surrounded by high, steep mountains that protects it from the outside world. It is in this sheltered place, cut off from time it would seem, that creatures from prehistory have survived. Wait, no that’s not what The Valley of Gwangi is REALLY about. That’s just what we wish it were about. What The Valley of Gwangi is really about is a con man cowboy who walked out on his fiancee but now that she’s about to make it big with her own rodeo, he wants her to sell out and help him buy a ranch in Wyoming. Ok, maybe not that cynical—yeah, that cynical. The rigid gender roles in this movie are painful to watch and most of the movie is spent following this down on his luck cowboy with no redeeming qualities harass the girl.

You see he’s a man so when she tells Tuck to get out of her trailer so she can change he doesn’t have to because: manly! And when T.J., the woman, decides she wants to pursue her own life of adventure and see if she can’t make the rodeo work he tells her that he’s already been down that road so there’s no need for her to live her own life, she can just give everything up and become his maid.

There is a cute little Hispanic boy, Lope, who councils Tuck and T.J. both. (This is one monster movie where the child works but it’s because he’s not the main character.) Tuck gets to listen to the wisdom of a child because he is “afraid to love” and T.J. who finally sends Tuck away but then is told, “You must go after him, for he is a very proud man.” Yeah that’s the kind of guy you want to give up your independence for. Ugh. Oh well, at least it wasn’t Twilight. I mean we do get to see animated dinosaurs in The Valley of Gwangi, so there is that going for it.

Now around this riveting backstory we have a struggling rodeo and some rodeo hands that need to be paid. This is the real plot of the movie. Carlos, a decent guy who is in actually love with T.J., as opposed to Tuck who just thinks she’s his due, somehow provides a tiny prehistoric horse to draw crowds to the rodeo and hopefully lift them out of debt.

A blind gypsy woman has once before warned Carlos about taking things from that valley and of course the very first thing Tuck does once he sees the horse is go straight to a roving paleontologist from Britain and tell him all about this secret T.J. trusted him with. Because, you know, a woman trusts you and the first thing you do is tell someone with a vested interest in possessing the treasure; because: Manly! (You know, gentle reader, I had no idea I was quite so offended by the “romance” in Valley of Gwangi until I started writing this review. Honestly the movie isn’t half bad if you can get past that.)

Our scientist, eager to see where the creature came from and hoping to find out how it survived tells the Gypsies where the critter is. And so the cowboys are off on horseback chasing after the prehistoric horse to get it back for Miss T.J. Carlos, after having already saved Tuck’s life, lies and says it was he who stole the little horse and there is very little worse than being branded a horse thief in the old west.

The Gypsies release the little horse in the valley. Right behind them is the scientist and behind him is Tuck. Behind Tuck is T.J. And her posse. The Gypsies vamoose leaving everyone else to gather together and discover the valley. Lope is carried aloft by a Pterodactyl and Carlos has to save him. From there we see two or three dinosaurs, including a shockingly purple Gwangi who is some kind of Allosaur or maybe T-Rex. Shotguns serve only to annoy Gwangi. Carlos saves everyone’s life before finally getting eaten.

The cowboys take Gwangi captive to be the star attraction of the rodeo. This ends badly. This always ends badly. Gwangi goes on a rampage before finally being trapped in a huge catholic cathedral and burned to death. Surprisingly few people get eaten.

Despite the clumsy and sexist “romance” The Valley of Gwangi was a decent example of its era. In fact I found a list of movies Ray Harryhausen worked on and I might see if Netflix has them.

The Valley of Gwangi was inspired by an earlier unfilmed project Gwangi. While Ray Harryhausen would go on to do such classics as The Clash Of The Titans and The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, The Valley of Gwangi would be his last work animating dinosaurs. K.

Chronos Commandos: Dawn Patrol #1 of 5 Advance Review

Chronos Commandos Cover

Chronos Commandos Cover

Chronos Commandos Cover

Created, Written and Illustrated by: Stuart Jennett
Logo Design and Lettering Assist by: Donna Jennett
Edited by: Andrew James
On Sale August 14th

First impression: Wow. Second impression: Wow. This comic book is beautiful. The art is fantastic. I would hazard a guess that this is a labor of love. Stuart Jennett clearly, demonstrably, has remarkable talent and it is all on display in this issue.

Chronos Commandos: Dawn Patrol #1 is packed full of important backstory. The pages are dense with plot, dialogue and every scene is gorgeously realized. I confess that I almost passed on reviewing this comic because, well, it is kind of gory. Beautifully rendered but lots of death and blood and some guts.

For some inexplicable reason dinosaurs find military personnel delicious. Humans must be like the potato chips of the Cretaceous and men with guns are the hot-n-spicy flavored ones. I like time travel stories and this holds true across the spectrum.

The issue opens and closes with panels that show top secret, classified documents. The opening classified document establishes “Sarge” as being assigned to the Chronos Commandos. The closing document provides a more detailed description of what the project is and what their hopes are for it. I confess that I secretly hoped to see Project Rainbow included in the final list but I can understand why it was not. Perhaps that would have been too much. Also it would have gotten into a whole weird area mixing Tesla with Einstein. This wouldn’t have been just another, “you got chocolate in my peanut butter,” kind of thing. There is plenty going on with what the author has already. Rogue conspiracy theories were not necessary and this kind of restraint shows good self-editing on the part of the creator.

Warning some spoilers ahead. Tread lightly.

Our hero, “Sarge,” takes a crack team of commandos back to the far distant past to foil a Nazi plot to win WWII. Sarge is a bit sloppy about time travel theory. He’s just not into the whole “Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey” stuff. He’s a man of action. This does not end well for the good guys. However, the story is beautifully thought out. You can see what’s happening and the results are quite right. There are so many things that could be red herrings. I’m really quite hooked. I want to see what Jennett does and where he takes the story.

During the course of their mission a T-Rex who clearly has a craving eats some of Sarge’s men. Possibly she’s a mother close to hatching out a clutch of little T-Rexes because she will go to any length to satisfy her craving for crunchy commandos. Did I mention a little bit gory? Yeah.

Sarge is a bit callous about the whole thing which points to some potential interesting inner conflicts in the future. He’s a big picture guy trying to save the world from evil. He doesn’t have time to worry about one or two guys who fall during the fight for freedom.

We also are given tantalizing hints to some past injury the Nazis have done him. He seems a bit obsessive about hunting down Nazis and stopping them. There really is a lot going on with this character. Subtle is not in his vocabulary. He starts the issue with three men. Two suffer death by dino and one dies at the hands of a Nazi due to a miscount. Although that begs the question—was it the previous mission, which they reference as making a mistake during that led to the Nazis changing history and thus leading to the miscount or were they just in a hurry and got sloppy? What a delicious question to leave the reader with.

Sarge does some things that perhaps a more savvy time traveller would not do and this possibly results in bad things happening. I’m not going to spoil everything for you but I will say that it’s really not good for history, as we know it.

As promised in the press release; Einstein himself, wild hair and all, is wielding a machine-gun when Sarge returns. This is bad. First of all, Einstein, historically, was a pacifist. To imagine that gentle scientist wielding a machine-gun hints at terrible things happening to the time stream.

I’m just not spoiling the ending for you. Suffice it to say that Sarge has to immediately hop back into his chrono sphere to fix some problems that involve Nazis who have turned the tables. In the course of this one issue Sarge went from having the edge, having intel before the Nazis to the Nazis knowing things they aught not to. Time travel, go figure. K.

Titan Comics Press Release: Chronos Commandos: Dawn Patrol (7/10/2013)

Chronos Commandos Cover

Chronos Commandos Cover

Chronos Commandos Cover

Writer(s): Stuart Jennett
Artist Name(s): Stuart Jennett

When the Allies and Nazis develop time-diving technology that could see the course of the Second World War derailed by creatures from the Cretaceous period, only the Sarge and his band of misfit soldiers can save the future – by saving history!

Dinosaurs! Giant crocodiles! Time travel! Nazis! Albert Einstein with a machinegun! All that barely scratches the surface of this astounding, fully-painted pulp spectacular!

Buckle up, ladies, it’s going to be a bumpy, cigar-chewin’ thrill-ride!

I’ve gotta say, gentle readers, this looks like a fun comic book romp. K.