Wednesday, December 24, 2014

K.A.C. 2014 - T - 1 ...

    
      And so we come to the end of another year of the K.A.C. - we've traveled down many weird and wonderful roads ... and speaking of roads, that brings me to my final Christmas gift to you, my patient readers. Besides, doesn't the cover at left just scream Christmas goodwill and cheer to you? No? Well, read on ... 

     Seabury Quinn (1889 - 1969) was one of Weird Tales' most prolific and popular writers during the magazine's run, winning multiple readers polls over the years for favorite author. He was mainly known for a series of 93 stories and novellas, which ran from 1925 - 1951 that starred his French 'occult detective' Jules de Grandin and his companion in crime Dr. Trowbridge (which is how I became introduced to his writing, when Popular Library reprinted a number of the stories in a paperback series during 1976 - '77). He also wrote a number of other stories, including our selection for this year's Christmas tale.

     Looking back over all the years I've done the K.A.C., I'm surprised I've never posted this one before. First published in the January, 1938 edition of WEIRD TALES (with the amazing Margaret Brundage cover at left), it's a marvelous novella entitled ROADS. Anthologist Sam Moskowitz called the story, "the greatest adult Christmas story written by an American". It was so favorably received that it was genre publisher Arkham Books' first hardcover book in 1948, beautifully illustrated by my favorite fantasy artist, Virgil Finlay. Red Jacket Press has published a limited edition facsimile reprint volume of the Arkham Books edition, and have this to say about the story: 

     "Divided into three sections, Quinn’s tale begins in the days of the Roman Empire, where the mighty gladiator Claus — a barbarian from the frozen Northland — has just finished his term of service in the province of Judea. On the journey back to his homeland, Claus chances upon a poor family under attack and saves them from a murderous band of soldiers. With this selfless act, his life is changed forever.


     Claus goes on to travel further than he ever could have imagined. Crossing from one end of the Empire to the other and back again, he eventually outlives the power of Rome and the dark ages that follow it, and witnesses the rise of new civilizations on its former lands. Immune to the effects of time, Claus accumulates the wisdom of many lifetimes before discovering the final road he is destined to follow — a path which will lead him to his true calling, and fulfill a promise made to one very special child on behalf of all the children of the world."

     You can order their edition here: http://redjacketpress.com/books/roads.html (well worth it, especially for the accompanying Finlay illustrations), or for you digital types, you can get it for your Kindle via Amazon.com at this link: http://www.amazon.com/Roads-Legend-Santa-Seabury-Quinn-ebook/dp/B00E7HNBXA/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid=

     Surprisingly, the story has not been anthologized very often. In fact, I know of only one out of print anthology that carried it, a 1965 Pyramid Books paperback called Worlds of Weird (seen at right), which had a second printing in 1977. For you used book lovers, this is one to keep your eyes open for next time you go on a store run! Plus the cover by Finlay (with a 'Space Santa' and his bag of planets) is rather fitting for the season, yes?

     Whatever the format, you owe it to yourself to track down and read this timeless tale. It's one of the best pieces ever written by Quinn and it just MAY change the way you look at a certain jolly fat man for years to come.

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     And with that recommendation, our time is done. I hope we've entertained, enlightened and brought you some enjoyment over the last few weeks, and have made this season a little less hectic and a little more humorous. Thank you all for reading and for your support and comments. As usual, we'll do it again starting December 1st next year. 

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ovLhLR13yCE&list=UUQ3PRq3OOgWIl1aKV7G-Rkg
 

Until then, I wish you all the happiness under the moon and stars - Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! 


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

K.A.C. 2014 - T - 2 ...

     Welcome to our next to last offering of 2014 - it's time for our Image(s) of the Year! First the nice ... seriously, was there ever any doubt what it would be this year? Since Krampus has been our official K.A.C. mascot from the beginning, this one was a shoo-in. 

     Now to the 'naughty' ... rather than publish the image itself, I'm going to provide the link and you can choose to see it or not - I'll give you some hints. It is reminiscent of our very first Image of the Year back in 2008 (which I republished in 2012). It also has a similar theme to a Fox 'documentary' hosted by Jonathan Frakes in 1995. And I think that's about all I'm saying in the clue department - if you thought the 'shaved reindeer' from a few days back was unpalatable, then you might want to skip clicking on this:

http://www.meh.ro/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/meh.ro10364.jpg 

     
      Think that was something? Well, kids, we've saved the most astonishing for last! The literary trend called 'paranormal romance' hit its peak a few years ago with Twilight and all its sequels ... as a result, every kind of 'vampire romance' flooded the shelves. When that cooled off, it moved on to sexy werewolves, etc. I had figured these kind of books had run their course - sadly (or not), I was wrong ... so, so wrong. 






     When my wife first told me this existed, I refused to believe her. She finally had to show me the link and I just stared agog at it - I'd say somebody is going to get Krampus' switch for this, but given the audience it is aimed at, they would probably like it! Rather than take my word for it, why not take a look at the link below and read the book's full description:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/250048   





     As jaw-dropping as that is, it's still not the most outrageous title out there! At this point, I don't even know how you classify these - 'mythological romances', 'crypto-erotica', etc. - I give up. If A Kiss From Krampus is too 'weak sauce' for you and you want to step up your game, then you're probably ready for the 'Moan For Bigfoot' anthology ... I wish I was making this up! We're nothing if not gluttons for punishment here at the K.A.C., so in the spirit of completeness, here's the link:

http://www.amazon.com/Bigfoot-Anthology-Monster-Menage-Series-ebook/dp/B00CR2C1VK

     And (since I know you're going to ask) NO, I haven't read either of these titles! :)


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     Well, that went a lot darker than I intended for our next-to-last entry of the year.  C'mon, seriously, you want to make out with THAT? Krampus is not amused! Let's end this column with a more traditional look at all things Krampus and the group dedicated to making sure the Big Guy will be terrifying ne'er-do-well children for generations to come - see the link below! Make sure you watch the accompanying video!

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/22/world/europe/krampus-he-sees-you-when-youre-sleeping-and-gives-you-nightmares.html?_r=1 

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     One more entry to go as we put the K.A.C. to bed for 2014! I promise it will be a lot more sedate than today's craziness! See you tomorrow!

Monday, December 22, 2014

K.A.C. 2014 - T - 3 ...

     Three days to go! I've touched on many aspects of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol over the years (for example, my December 21st, 2011 entry) and still more trivia continues to come to light!

     It turns out the character of Ebenezer Scrooge was based on a real person, who was actually a bit of a rogue and not at all like the character Dickens wrote. He became the man we know and love due to a mild case of dyslexia and poor eyesight. Read the whole amazing tale here! 

http://www.scotsman.com/news/revealed_the_scot_who_inspired_dickens_scrooge_1_571985

     
      I would be remiss if I didn't mention the passing of Norman Bridwell on December 12th. He was known the world over for his series of Clifford, The Big Red Dog books. Less known, however, is his own take on the season called The Witch's Christmas. It's a charming children's book about how different it is when you're a witch and how you approach the holiday season. She even saves Santa and the reindeer at the end! To learn more about a part of your childhood woefully ignored, go see The Paperback Pirate's writeup:

http://paperbackpirate.blogspot.com/2011/12/witchs-christmas-by-norman-bridwell.html

    

      Christmas Witches not weird enough for you? Want to stand out and be noticed at the Holiday Party? Say no more! Just slip into this Reindeer Superhero costume and you're ready to take on the world (or a furry convention). There's also Basic Santa Man (that just sounds so sad), Goldmember Santa and Santa's Big Head Suit! Come on, how can you have not figured out these are all Japanese Christmas costumes by now? Stare in shock and awe at the link below!

http://inventorspot.com/articles/10_bizarre_christmas_party_costumes_japan

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     Only two more entries to go!      

Sunday, December 21, 2014

K.A.C. 2014 - T - 4 ...

     Before we get going on today's entry, I wanted to wish the Ideals Company congratulations on their 70th Anniversary Christmas Edition this year! I wrote about my long-standing relationship with this annual magazine and the teacher who started me on it - see my blog entry of December 20th, 2010 for the full story.

     The magazine began in 1944, during the height of World War II. I have many of the early issues and was struck particularly by the war-year issues, which I wrote about in my December 24th, 2011 entry. Anyways, I'm glad the magazine is still going strong all these years later - it marks my personal beginning of the holiday season each year, buying the new edition in late November. Here's to many more!

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      Here's a nice surprise - Marvel's 2014 Holiday card featuring everybody's favorite sentinent Christmas tree, Groot! Sadly, everyone involved dropped the ball on what could have been the 'must have' toy of the season - a dancing Baby Groot (as seen at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy). The popularity of the film caught the studio off-guard and the rush to come up with tie-in products was delayed as a result. There IS a Dancing Groot Bobblehead out, but it's not the same ... the ACTUAL Dancing Groot is coming, BTW ... it just won't be here before 2015. 

     

      We're almost done here for the year and we've barely mentioned our K.A.C. mascot, Krampus! Turns out he's been getting a bad rep this whole time - but don't take it from us! When an Oscar-winning actor takes up the Krampus mantle, you've GOT to listen! Take it away, Christoph Waltz!

http://io9.com/christoph-waltz-explains-the-joys-of-krampus-to-a-befud-1673091539


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     Last but not least, we're two days away from the Image of the Year. How can we top the shaved reindeer, you ask? By embracing the spirit of the season and nominating TWO photos ... one naughty and one nice! Check back with us for their unveiling - more tomorrow!   

Saturday, December 20, 2014

K.A.C. 2014 - T - 5 ...

     Five days left and my wife sends me this pic ... excellent! It reminded me of a book my cousin Jane had given me a number of years ago when she worked in the publishing business, an art book called On Tender Hooks featuring the off-the-wall works of Isabel Samaras. She has a unique take on all the old pop culture icons, unlike anyone I've ever seen - just a warning that some of her paintings are NSFW. Take a look at her website below:

http://astrocat.com/samaras/ 

     

    


      Here's the original illustration from her book that I was reminded of by the photo above - it also answers the question posed by my friend Mark when he asked, "Who would be the Three Wise Men in this scenario?" Here's your answer, Big Guy! 

     For more of her truly bizarre (and kinky) art, you can get a copy of her book here - makes a perfect last-minute gift for Grandma!



     Let's jump now from Monster Nativities to Monster Trees. Proving if you look long and hard enough, you can find a film about anything, we present the infamous 2008 short film TREEVENGE. It's exactly what it sounds like and - fair warning - if you're squeamish, this film is not for you! Here's the official description: " (The film) details the experiences and horrifying reality of the lives of Christmas trees. Clearly, for trees, Christmas isn’t the exciting “peace on earth” that is experienced by most. After being hacked down, and shipped away from their homes, they quickly become strung up, screwed into an upright position for all to see, exposed in a humiliation of garish decorations. But this Christmas will be different, this Christmas the trees have had enough, this Christmas the trees will fight back. ‘Treevenge’ could be a short film about the end of days for Christmas trees, or perhaps, the end of humanity?” It's films like this that bolster my case why we should get an artificial tree each year! 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kicdSI_-XpE 

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     I don't think I can top that today, so we'll end it here! Come back tomorrow after we clean up the mess! 

Friday, December 19, 2014

K.A.C. 2014 - T - 6 ...

     Breaking news! It has just come to our attention here at the K.A.C. that the original inspiration for a Charlie Brown Christmas and the 'Charlie Brown Tree' came from none other than ... Vincent Price and his daughter Victoria! :)  OK, we may be stretching things a wee bit, but isn't this a great picture? Thanks to Mark R. for the find!









 
     We're going to ramp it up for our final six days, and what better way to start than with a look at the ten most bizarre Christmas gifts. This is an older list (from 2010), but it contains a number of items I haven't seen before, including this stunning children's doll. So if you've ever wanted to shave the baby (even typing that sounds creepy!), here you go! The list also includes the Smile Trainer, the Kaba Kick and the Maternity Radiation Shield ... they're all to found at the link below!

http://www.naivejar.org/eatshoplive/ten-most-bizarre-kids-christmas-gifts/

     At this point in the game, if you're still looking for last-minute holiday gifts, you're pretty much out of luck, unless you pay extravagantly fast shipping expenses. Just get a gift card and call it a day. BUT - if you want to rock out a New Year's Party and need something to bring, look no further! What you need is the five pound life size Gummi Skull! Celebrate the death of the Old Year with this shockingly sweet reminder that the clock's a-tickin'! 

http://geekologie.com/2014/12/brains-near-life-size-five-pound-gummi-s.php 

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     More tomorrow!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

K.A.C. 2014 - T - 7 ...

     One week to go ... YIKES! That and more is what you're going to be saying (or shrieking) when you see this year's collection of Creepy Santas! A BIG thank you to Jackie for the link! Prepare to be horrified! 

http://www.buzzfeed.com/briangalindo/23-disturbing-santa-claus-photos-that-will-wreck-your-christ 

     And speaking of horrifying, what better way to following up that photogenic nightmare than with these wildly inappropriate Christmas ornaments for your tree - thanks to Jen for the link! .



     http://guff.com/hilariously-inappropriate-christmas-decorations/frosty-and-santa-get-cozy

     Taking a break from all the horror, it's time for our annual visit with Santa's three special helpers, Hardrock, Coco and Joe! They premiered on December 18th, 1956 (see my entry of December 18th, 2010, for their full story) and have been going strong ever since. Of course, Santa looks like a madman in this version, so hey - he fits right in with the other crazed Kringles on display! Sing along, everybody! 


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDM6Bbt9WDY

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     More tomorrow!