Saturday, December 3, 2016

K.A.C. 2016 - T - 22 ...

     Good morning and welcome back! Today's card is one of two featuring this cute ancestor of Black Phillip, a sweet Victorian Yule Goat. Trust me, they get more bizarre from here on out! So without further ado, let's dive in to our bulging sack of holiday cheer and see what pops out!

     And wouldn't you know it? Today's entry concerns none other than our old K.A.C. mascot, KRAMPUS! I've reported on so many aspects of 'Santa's Little Helper' over the years that now, whenever there's a spot of news with some new item about him, I'm INUNDATED with posts! :) Well, there could be worse things to be known for, I suppose ... 

     Anyways, mark your calendars if you live in the general New England area! I had mentioned last year how much I would love to someday see an actual Krampuslauf (Krampus parade), but that, sadly, they only have them in Europe. Well, guess who's come to America? Ol' Horn Head himself! Actually a number of cities are now sponsoring these parades, including the Krampus Walk, being held this year on Saturday, December 3rd (TODAY !!!), from 7PM - midnight in East Providence, Rhose Island. It's sponsored by the Krampus of New England community - here's what they have to say about it: "Celebrating the long tradition of Krampus,we will walk about the east side of Providence, stopping at various locations for drinks and food. Make much merriment, family friendly atmosphere. We're gonna have a donation box for Toys For Tots as well."

     So you have one of two choices - you can either go and see the Parade and enjoy all the rampaging Krampuses/Krampii (???) --- OR if you've got the desire, ambition and talent, you can dress up and BE a Krampus yourself! It's too late in the game to enter this year's Parade, but if you have any sort of costuming expertise and are interested, they're always interested in having MORE Krampuses join them! If you want to join them, all the details can be found on their Facebook page, which you can find here:

      https://www.facebook.com/events/661891260632873/

     By the way, if you'd like to see what a traditional Krampuslauf looks like, take a gander at this video:

     https://www.facebook.com/TheIndependentOnline/videos/10154221739476636/



      Speaking of Rampaging Krampuses, what better game to while the hours away while waiting for the Parade to start than ... wait for it ... KRAMPAGE! Yes, now YOU can score points tracking down those misbehaving hellions in front of the Christmas tree and try to stuff them in your sack! Take a peek at the video clips from the game and then head on over to the Apple Store to download the app! 

http://www.playkrampage.com/ 

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Coming Tomorrow: Trees, glorious trees! Our look at the strangest coniferous custodians of your presents, complete with odd ornaments and more!

Friday, December 2, 2016

K.A.C. 2016 - T - 23 ...

    

Good morning! Our vintage card today comes from 1914 - after playing one too many of yesterday's Grinch Drinking Game and emptying out ALL of Santa's Flasks, your party probably devolved into something like this ... good luck explaining that one! It does lead us into today's main topic, however ... the mistletoe!

     This mash-up photo at left (below) should give you an excellent idea of the kind of journalistic integrity to expect in the coming month. Wait a minute, I hear you ask ... I thought this was a Christmas blog ... what's with the pic? Isn't it obvious? What could be MORE Christmas-y than KISS Under the Missle-Toe ?  :)

     Moving on ... click below to read how the holiday tradition of kissing under the mistletoe got started (courtesy of the BBC Earth website): 

http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20151215-why-we-kiss-under-mistletoe  

     

     

     
     












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     We turn now from the kissing shrub above you to what's traditionally found UNDER the tree, with a Gallic difference. Any idea what the photo on the right represents? It's a figure coming out of a mold for the traditional French Christmas santons, hand-colored terracotta figures that go with nativity scenes. The Guardian (UK) recently ran a photo article on the making of the santons and the figures that go into it - it's an eye-opening look at how different countries see the Nativity - go see!

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/gallery/2016/nov/29/traditional-french-christmas-santons-in-pictures 


      Finally, while you are tastefully setting up your santons under the tree to bedazzle your friends, you're going to need something to listen to - may we suggest an alternative to those old tried and true Christmas carols? Introducing 'neural karaoke' - a computer-generated carol based on a Christmas picture you submit to the program. The lyrics are strange as anything and the computer can't carry a tune in a bucket, but get used to it ... when AI finally hits, we're ALL going to be singing these! Click on the link and give it a listen!

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/nov/29/its-no-christmas-no-1-but-ai-generated-song-brings-festive-cheer-to-researchers 

     ***************************************************************************
 Coming Tomorrow: A visit with our mascot who's in the news AGAIN, Krampus!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Welcome to the Kitschmas Advent Calendar 2016 !!! T - 24 Days ... and Counting !!!


     Good morning and welcome to the 2016 edition of the K.A.C. !!! This is the Eighth Year of our annual online tradition of showcasing the odd, the bizarre, the downright strange aspects of the holiday season ... everyday from now until Christmas Eve I will have a new post with an item of interest to amuse, amaze and entertain you. Our theme this year is Vintage Christmas Card Creepiness, with an all-new collection of the strangest cards that your parents, grandparents and great-grandparents were sending back in the day and ALL of them making you wonder just WHAT was in the eggnog! Day 1 begins and you've gotta hand it to the Claus-meister - always a gentleman and willing to lend a hand when the holiday cheer gets a bit TOO out of control (as seen in today's card) ... which leads us to our trendy topic on the K.A.C.

      Let's start with a serious (well, as serious as we get around here) question - are you ALREADY dreading the holiday season, perhaps more this year than in years past? Not to worry, we're here to help! Introducing the one thing you need, nay, MUST HAVE this time of year ... the SANTA FLASK! Just put this bad boy (or two!) up on your mantel and spread that holiday cheer a cup at a time! Ever wonder where ol' Saint Nick's ruddy cheek glow came from? The WINTER, you say? Heck NO, buddy - the S-Man's got a TON of these hanging up at the North Pole! Now you can brighten up the holidays with your very own - just follow the link below!

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B013HR7L3Q/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&linkCode=sl1&tag=kifuwimy3so03-20&linkId=85f542e5fae4d38c02d9410732003614 

      So - you have the flask, you have the wine (or spirit of your choice) and you can just feel yourself slipping closer and closer to the edge, like a certain not-so-jolly Green Giant seen below. What to do, what to do? Well, we've got the answer to that, as well, and it involves our Grinchy cohort! Have you heard of the Grinch Drinking Game? NO? Allow us (courtesy of the www.sofakingdrunk.com website):

    

How The Grinch Stole Christmas Drinking Game

What you will need to play this Xmas Drinking Game:
1. Alcohol (Beer or a mixed drinks usually)
2. The original cartoon movie (How the Grinch Stole Christmas

How to play:
Divide everyone that is playing into two teams
Team 1 – The Whos From Whoville
Team 2 – The Grinch

Every time the narrator says the name of your team, you drink. It's that easy! But be ready to drink a lot; you might want to have a second drink handy at all times.
There is no real way to say who wins or loses this game. Unless someone on one of the teams can't finish the game, then that team loses. This is a great way to get feeling good before the night begins!!
Enjoy and be safe this Christmas!

     Speaking of the Grimacing Green One, this year marks his 50th anniversary! Not only that, but did you know today (December 1st) is actually known as National Grinch Day? It's true! By the way, have you ever wondered where Dr. Seuss came up with the name "The Grinch" and what it meant? Here's the answer - he took the name from the French word 'Grincheux', which means ... GRUMPY!  Check out the link here at Seussville to learn more about what YOU can do on Grinch Day and all through the month! 

     http://www.seussville.com/growyourheart/

     ***********************************************************************

     Coming Tomorrow: Pucker up - we're going under the mistletoe to explore some long-forgotten traditions regarding this ode to osculation! Plus - how the French see the nativity and a Christmas carol you won't soon forget!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

K.A.C. 2015 - T - 1 ...

     

     The clock on the wall and the headline on this page tells us that our time is up for another year here at the K.A.C. As we do every year, we're going to leave you with our annual Christmas ghost story. 

     Actually, there are two. The first is a traditional chiller and the second one is somewhat different. Oh, there are spirits involved, but it takes a very unexpected turn from the tales you are used to reading here.

     But first, a bit of info on the man who wrote them. Arch Oboler (1909 - 1987) was a prolific and gifted writer with a fertile imagination, most noted today for his guiding hand on the LIGHTS OUT radio show of the 1930s and '40s. His most famous (or infamous) show was the "Chicken Heart" episode (in which a chicken heart kept alive in a lab grows out of control and devours all life on Earth), a masterpiece of sound effects that gave kids of the time the jim-jams and was so popular and well-remembered that Bill Cosby had one of his most famous stand-up comedy routines about hearing it as a kid and the unfortunate incident that transpired in his home because of it. 

     Oboler was also an acknowledged inspiration for such future writers as Rod Serling and Stephen King. He was responsible for cinema's first 3-D feature (BWANA DEVIL, 1952), as well as being the mastermind behind another 3-D feature we've shown at Conjure Cinema, THE BUBBLE. 

     I had the good fortune to correspond with Mr. Oboler when I was a college student in the 1970s and he spoke of many things, including (like Rod Serling after him) his disdain for the interference and changes to his scripts by network sponsors and the like. He also wrote one of the finest horror novels I have ever read (House On Fire, 1969). For years it was out of print and impossible to find, but has been recently reprinted and is well worth your time.

     That rather long introduction aside leads us (at last) to this year's tales. Our first story is entitled "Poltergeist" (aka "The Gravestone"). It originally aired on LIGHTS OUT the night of December 16th, 1936, and is a stellar example of how Oboler could wreak havoc with one's imagination with only words and sound effects. Give it a listen here:

     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UvAJ8yZEmSs 


     Our second tale is entitled "Uninhabited" and aired on December 22nd, 1937. It was, I'm sure, a surprise to regular LIGHTS OUT listeners who were expecting their regular dose of in-the-dark radio horror. Oboler was always one to turn expectations on their head throughout his long career and this episode is no exception. So turn out YOUR lights and settle in (courtesy of the Old Time Radio Christmas website) as we join three weary travelers on a long train ride home ... that takes a VERY unexpected detour:

     http://otrcat.net/otr6/Lights-Out-371222-Uninhabited--OTRCAT.com.mp3

     ****************************************************************

     Finally, let me leave you with this quote, appropriate for the holiday ... and any other ... season.

     "Resolve to cultivate a cheerful spirit, a smiling countenance and a soothing voice. The sweet smile, the subdued speech, the hopeful mind are earth's most potent conquerors, and he who cultivates them becomes a very master among men".

                                                                                         - Elbert Hubbard 

     *****************************************************************

     Thank you for joining us for another edition of the K.A.C. - we hope we've educated and entertained you along the way and brought some happiness into this stressful time. We'll be back next year when the calendar reaches December. Until then, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

K.A.C. 2015 - T - 2 ...

     In our next to last entry for the year, I thought we'd explore one of the more interesting superstitions of the season that I remember growing up with as a child. 

     Have you ever heard of the Legend of the Talking Animals? There are a number of variations of the story, but the bare bones of it is that as part of the magic of Christmas, if you stayed up until midnight on Christmas Eve and were very quiet, you could hear the animals talk in human speech. The origin of this story is hard to track down - most people say this practice originated from the British Isles, at the more isolated farms, but I've also heard the legend being attributed to Polish origin.

     According to Dr. Karl Shuker (at his ShukerNature website):

      "In many lands, there is an age-old folk belief that from midnight on Christmas Eve until dawn breaks on Christmas Day morning, animals are blessed with the gift of human speech, in memory of the lowly stable creatures that surrounded the Holy Family in the manger. During that magical period, they are able to converse with one another, enabling them to voice their adoration of the newborn Jesus, and also to discuss how well (or otherwise) they are cared for by their human masters."


     In addition to the regular talking animals, there is also the belief that if you keep bees and go out to their hive at midnight on Christmas Eve, you will hear them humming a hymn in honor of Christ's birth. Another version of the tale says the animals are only able to speak for a few minutes after midnight on Christmas Eve (making it that much harder to catch them), in remembrance of the animals in the manger. They have the gift of human speech for a limited time to commemorate the short time they had before the shepherds arrived from the fields, when the only people who heard them speak were Mary, Joseph and the Baby Jesus.

     This is one of the earliest stories I remember as a kid, and for some reason, it creeped me out! :) So of course, year after year, I would make it a point to stay up until midnight to try and catch my Mom's poodle talking (if he said anything, it would have probably been something along the lines of, "Hey, kid, stop blaming me for all the stuff YOU break around the house!", instead of any real profundity). Sadly, he never spoke. Of course, if it was a cat, they would probably have a whole LIST of things they'd like to bring up with you, so maybe it's for the best that it's only for a few minutes. 

     The story was made into an animated Christmas cartoon in 1970 by Gamma Films and used to be shown regularly on TV. It's called 'The Night The Animals Talked' - you can see it (in six parts) via this YouTube link:

     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LTFwnV-Qo4&index=2&list=PLCFBC6E5CD0DAA70A

     The other variation of this that I've heard is that if you go out to an isolated area away from the city and other people (some quiet, rural area in the country is best) at exactly midnight on Christmas Eve and stand still and silent outside, you can hear the angels singing in celebration. I tried this one a few times as a kid and actually DID hear faint singing one time! 

     So if you're a pet owner, stay up 'till midnight on Christmas Eve and try this out - let us know if you hear anything (well, anything more than, "More cheese, please!")

     ***************************************************************************

     Coming Tomorrow: Our final entry for the year, with our Annual Christmas Ghost Story - actually, TWO! Join us as we wrap up the K.A.C. in style!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

K.A.C. 2015 - T - 3 ...

      Only three days left! Just enough time to get in some last-minute photos leading up to our 2015 K.A.C. Image of the Year - I've had most of these in the archives waiting for their moment of glory, but most of them are SO damn strange that I can't connect them up to any story! So without further ado, let's take a look (and, as always, you can click on the images to get a LARGER look at them ... although with some of these bad boys, that may not be a good idea!)
THE Creepiest Santa Photo I Came Across All Year ... Brrrrr !!!!
"Hey, look! Santa # 1 just got picked by that little boy! Wait ... Omigod ... he just skinned him and ATE him! HELP !!!"

A nice take-off of an earlier K.A.C. Image of the Year ... A Reindeer's Christmas!
Santa Narwhal ... What More Can I Say? (Courtesy Etsy)


Thought the Weird-Ass Vintage Christmas Cards Were Done? Think Again, Pink Boy!
I Can't Even ... I Just Know I Love It!
HATE Decorating Your Christmas Tree? NO PROBLEM! Hang just TWO Ornaments and You're DONE!
Pepper-HO-HO-HO-ni // 
oscarmayer Heritage Recipe Pepperoni with cheese, marinara, and cream cheese.







    








































































  The last one was sent in by LizzieBelle, a last-minute squeaker courtesy of Sandwichmonsters.com - thanks!

     ***************************************************************

     Which brings us to the Image of the Year. Known as the 'Banksy Christmas Card', the first time I saw the image was just a few days ago, when a friend posted it on Facebook. After doing some more research on it, I found out it was made back in 2005 by noted underground graffitti artist 'Banksy', and re-surfaces every year around December. We're not noted for political or serious subjects here at the K.A.C. (actually, it's something I studiously avoid every year, as you can get your fill of that and more on a daily basis through the Internet or any newsfeed), but given the ongoing refugee crisis, etc., that's happening now, this picture hits home. Love it or hate it as you will, like any good piece of art, it speaks to you and makes you think. I found it such a striking piece when I first saw it that I immediately broke with past year's traditions and gave it the nod for this year's Image of the Year. For more info on it, read the link below:

     http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/18/banksy-christmas-card_n_4468517.html









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          Coming Tomorrow: With only two entries to go, we turn to one of the most charming Christmas legends ... the Night the Animals Talked (and your humble curator's experiments in this regard) - see you then!

Monday, December 21, 2015

K.A.C. 2015 - T - 4 ...

     Four days to go ... time for another long-forgotten Christmas film! This time we go all the way back to 1913 and one of the rarest of the rare, THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS. Before you begin, be aware this is NOT the tale you are familiar with: there is no Santa Claus, no reindeer, no visions of sugarplums, etc. This tale is based on a story by Nikolai Gogol and was made by Ladislas Starevich, whom we've featured previously in this blog back on November 26th, 2010, with his amazing stop-motion animation short, THE INSECT'S CHRISTMAS. For those who've forgotten it (or have never seen it before), click here:

     http://www.conjurecinema.com/search?q=starevich 

     While known primarily for his animation, this short is mostly live-action, with some animation thrown in regarding the demon (the handsome fellow pictured at left). The plot of the film (courtesy of Wikipedia) goes like this:
  
     "The action is set in a Cossack stanitsa. On Christmas Eve, a minor demon arrives to a local witch called Solokha. They both ride on the witch's broom, after which the demon steals the Moon and hides in an old rag. In the ensuing darkness, some inebriated Cossacks can't find their way to a shinok (tavern) and decide to go home. One by one, they each come to visit Soloha, who hides each one (starting from the demon) in bags so that none of them see each other. At the same time, Solokha's son Vakula the Metalsmith (P. Lopukhin), tries to woo the beauty Oksana (Olga Obolenskaya), but she laughs at him and demands that he find her the shoes which the Tsarina wears. Vakula goes to Soloha in sadness, but upon coming there sees the bags and decides to take them to the forge. Getting tired along the way, he leaves the heaviest bags on the street, which are picked up by a caroling company. Vakula, who is left only with the bag containing the demon, goes to Patsyuk, a sorcerer, to ask him how to find a demon - only with the help of a demon can he hope to get Tsarina's shoes.
The Patsyuk answers that a person should not search for a demon if he has a demon behind his back. Vakula takes it as some kind of a murky wise say, but indeed eventually finds the demon in the bag and forces him to take him to St. Petersburg. There, Prince Potemkin takes him for an ambassador of the Zaporozhian Cossacks and gives him Tsarina's shoes. The demon takes Vakula home and Vakula lets him go. Oksana agrees to marry Vakula."  

     So to recap ... demons, shoes, witches and love ... sounds like a perfect Christmas film to me! :)

     It runs 41 minutes, is silent with Russian intertitles and can be found embedded in the Wiki link - enjoy! 

     https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Night_Before_Christmas_%281913_film%29 

     *****************************************************************************

     Coming Tomorrow: Our 2015 K.A.C. Image of the Year!