Welcome to the K.A.C.'s annual edition of Kringle's Christmas Cuties! The game is simple - I'll give you a picture (below) and you tell me who the Christmas Cutie is ... easy, right? Not so fast there, elf-boy! You're going to need to put on your fur-lined thinking cap for some of them. Answers tomorrow!
Welcome back - after that dark journey from yesterday, I thought I'd lighten the mood somewhat with some ... Christmas underwear? Well, looks like things haven't changed that much here, after all! :)
Today is Reader's Submission day, where I turn the entries over to items you have sent in - first, Peiwen (a regular contributor) sent me this fine cartoon - I know Thanksgiving is over, but it's STILL funny! http://theoatmeal.com/comics/thanksgiving
Next, a number of you have alerted me to what seems to be the 'must-have' gift this year for the Very Weird Set: I am talking about the Beard Cap/Beard Hat! Here's an example below ... and since I KNOW you're going to want one for your very own, here's where to order it!
There are many variations of the Beard Cap out there - my co-worker Mary just dropped off a newspaper clipping with the 'Beard Head Viking Combo Beard Hat' (complete with horns!) - if you're more the intellectual type, there are also the knitted Brain Caps, etc. Just head over to Google and type it in and the wonders of the knitting needle are yours to purchase!
Planning a trip over the holidays? Hey, anybody can go home to see the folks --- this year, why not go somewhere REALLY unique? Like where, you ask? How about Valchiusella, Italy? What's there, you ask? Only the Eighth Wonder of the World !!! It's official name is 'The Temples of Damanhur' and it is located undergeround, with such sights as the Hall of the Earth, the Hall of Mirrors, the Hall of Spheres and more! Thanks to Debbie for the link - read more about it here!
Stuck for shopping ideas? This year, give the gift of embarassment! In case Sketchy Santas and those horrendous Christmas card photos weren't enough for you, then this site (courtesy of Tracy) will help you re-live those High School Horrors ... be warned, though: YOU may be in here! Check out 'My Prom Outfit From Hell' !!!
Good morning and welcome back! Do you hang Christmas lights on your house ... perhaps a single white light in the window or a tasteful lawn decoration to brighten the night? Then you will have absolutely NOTHING in common with these folks ... they're all chronicled at Ugly Christmas Lights, and their crimes go back to 2003! Hopefully this isn't going to give some of you ideas!
For my Minnesota friends, I have a rendition of Yogi Yorgesson's 'I Yust Go Nuts at Christmas' - it's part of this year's edition of Worst Holiday Music! Click on the various links to hear this "classic", as well as John Denver's 'Please Daddy (Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas)', and the touching Star Wars carol 'Christmas In The Stars – What Do You Get A Wookie For Christmas (When He Already Owns A Comb)' !!! But nothing (and I mean NOTHING) I say can prepare you for the REAL gem on this site ... the one and only New York City public access TV legend Margarita Pracatan !!! Only for the brave!
As promised, now that we're past Thanksgiving, the fur-lined gloves are off and we are going for the jugular ... in this case, this year's winner for Worst Christmas Short! Our entry this year is absolute nightmare fuel, a piercing puppet production from 1948 called Santa in Animal Land! It's all about four animal friends who are unhappy that the Klaus-meister brings presents only to the humans ... and it's payback time! If you think the ANIMALS are creepy as Hell, just WAIT until you see Santa himself !!! YIKES !!! Remember, there are some things you can't UNSEE !!!
Good morning and welcome back - I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are still working off that Turkey Coma ... here at the K.A.C. we never stop ... work, work, work, that's us! Today is OUR day - the tackiest day of the year, aka 'Black Friday', the bargain shopper's paradise! So remember a couple of ground rules when you're out battling the hordes today: always keep your wallet and/or purse close to you, always fight to the death for that one last "must-have" item in the store and always stay hydrated! Bring plenty of water to sip on while waiting in line for the stores to open ... preferably in a disposable container that make it easy to sip from ... and ... oh, boy ... brings a whole new meaning to "To Infinity ... and Beyond!", doesn't it?!
As promised, it's our annual round-up of the worst toys of 2011 and we have some TRULY SKANKY toys you should be aware of! Let's start with the Doggie Doo Game and a description that has to be read to be believed!
How to play:
Step 1: Form and load Play-Doh poop pellet in the dog’s mouth.
Step 2: Position your pooper scooper under the wiener dog’s butt.
Step 3: Roll the die. Squeeze the leash lever the number of times shown on the die. Each squeeze makes a Gassy sound that pushes air into the dachshund, moving the poop through its system until...plop! If you’re lucky, collect poop as it drops out the other end.
The first person to collect three poops on their shovel wins. Be careful though... some die rolls make you skip a turn while others let another player trade scoopers with you. What’s the appeal of this game aside from the obvious “woah” factor?? The wiener dog makes noises as the poop passes through the digestive track and the dachshund's tail shakes the entire time.
I know a certain Yankee Yule Swap this would be PERFECT for! :)
Next is a TRULY heinous object, the 'McDonald's Chicken McNuggets' playset ... REALLY? Yes, really - this is probably the most detestable item on both lists.
There's also this year's version of the skanky stripper dolls, the Play-Doh Dentist set (making a return appearance from last year) and the bane of all parents, the AutoTune microphone! Go take a look at Leanne Shirtliffe's guide (and fine write-up of each piece)!
Happy Thanksgiving! We're taking today off at the K.A.C. to be with family and friends. I love this day, what with all the stuffing and potatoes and pies and turke ... whoa. Umm, yeah ... about this - in case you really want to make a statement with YOUR Little Butterball at the family soiree this year, may I recommend the Thanksgiving Turkey Onesie? Probably not as cute as the Christmas Tree Onesie we previewed in an earlier entry, but something the folks will be talking about for ages to come.
Think all we post here are cheesy Christmas films? Think again! The good folks over at XmasFlix.com have come through like the troupers they are and have found a real rarity: a 1951 short from Centron Films called A Day of Thanksgiving. When Mom breaks it to the kids that times are tough and there may not be any turkey for Thanksgiving this year, they go into whine mode and bitch and moan about how unfair that is. Dad comes home, hears their complaining and proceeds to lay the smackdown on their sorry asses, making them sit at the Thanksgiving table and think about the things that they're thankful for - before they get a morsel of food! Just wait until you see what MOM is thankful for ... EEEK!!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNoTR9Gjp8Y
There's one link that I COULD post today, but won't. If you saw the Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino double feature homage film GRINDHOUSE, you know EXACTLY what I'm talking about. If you didn't ... in addition to the two features, they invited their friends to shoot fake trailers for exploitation films that could have been shown back in the prime grindhouse era of the 1970s and '80s ... Eli Roth made a NOTORIOUSLY OUTRAGEOUS slasher trailer called THANKSGIVING that had the audience I saw it with shriek out loud ... if you're interested, go to YouTube and type it in ... it is NOT FOR KIDS OR THE SQUEAMISH!!! As the narrator says in the trailer, "White meat ... dark meat ... all will be carved!"
We'll close today with another favorite Doc Savage 'fantasy/what if' cover by artist Keith "Kez" Wilson. I featured his mash-up book cover in my Thanksgiving entry from last year, and he's back again with another fine one, called "Turkey Terror".
May YOU have a Happy Thanksgiving and a wonderful day ... prepare yourself, though, as starting tomorrow, with that tackiest of days, the "shopping holiday" known as Black Friday, the K.A.C. shifts into high gear for our final month of weirdness! Everything you're read before was just a warm-up to this ... and what could be a more appropriate entry than this year's edition of the Worst Christmas Toys of the Year? Be here and be afraid!
Dreading Black Friday, my Christmas Consumer Curmudgeons? Not a problem, as we here at the K.A.C. have you covered with every type of geeky gift for your favorite nerdy boy and girl! From all things Cthulhu (ahem ... yours truly ...) to Whovians galore and from Trekkies to Twihards and beyond, it's all here courtesy of io9.com's wrap-up ... as I told my wife, "If they had these rolling Daleks (seen below) when I was a kid, you would have needed the Jaws of Life to get me out!" All this plus some Christmas ornaments you MUST have for your tree! Check out your holiday shopping ideas here! http://io9.com/5861485/gift-ideas-for-10-major-species-of-science-fiction-fan
If that's not nearly geeky enough for you, or you want something less specialized, we've got you covered there, too! From computer wreaths to digital ornaments and beyond, these would even make a robot smile!
If none of the above floats your boat, then I think I may have JUST the thing. Remember last year's Tauntaun Sleeping Bag? It was originally made up as a novelty 'what if' item - until so many people starting asking where they could buy one that it became real. Well, if you want a one-of-a-kind sleeping bag of your own, but are NOT a Star Wars geek, but a more 'down to Earth'-type of guy, here you go! Your very own SLICE OF PIZZA SLEEPING BAG!
I'll leave you today with a nice, relaxing, cute photo - that of a kitten all happy nestled among the Christmas tree lights ... what's this, you ask? Has the Conjure Cinema Curator gone soft? No, no, not at all ... consider this the last moment of calm before the storm - we'll have a short (but riotous) entry tomorrow for Thanksgiving, and then the kid gloves come off. The final thirty days are going to be doozies, so enjoy your Turkey Day and strap yourselves in!
Good morning! Who doesn't like a good book for Christmas? I mean a REAL book, not the Kindle or Nook ebook players ... with that in mind, here's some ideas for your favorite reading reindeer this year ...
AbeBooks.com has a fun recommended books page that they update regularly called the "Weird Reads" page. They turned their staff loose on Christmas reads and came up with some amazing titles, such as A Yak For Christmas, The Little Book of Christmas Stress and Stocking Stuffers: Homoerotic Christmas Tales! All this plus Holiday Hounds, Haunted Tea-Cozies and more! Check it out here:
Today we turn to one of the strangest Christmas traditions I have come across in my research in a long time (and that's saying something), called belsnickeling. It's a holiday practice that stems from the Appalachian Valley area of Virginia and West Virginia - essentially, think "naughty mummers" for lack of a better term. A group of men would dress in outlandish costumes and go door to door, putting on some form of entertainment and demanding payment for their performance (usually food or drink, most often drink) - if the payment wasn't to their liking, then some mischief was performed at the offending house. The belsnickelers would go from house to house continuing their revelry, getting paid off with more drink at each house, until they were fully in their cups and God knows what their act looked like as the evening progressed. As you can see from the photo at left, the belsnickelers were always masked, so if the mischief got out of hand you didn't know WHO to blame for it the next day (the thought of looking for who was the most hungover in the town must not have occurred to the locals back then).
Actually, belsnickeling is no more than an American regional offshoot of a much older Newfoundland tradition, called mummering or jannying. From Wikipedia: "Mummeringis a Christmastime house-visiting tradition in Newfoundland and Labrador ... It typically involves a group of friends or family who dress in disguise and visit homes within their community or neighbouring communities during the twelve days of Christmas. If the mummers are welcomed into a house, they often do a variety of informal performances that may include dance, music, jokes, or recitations. The hosts must guess the mummers’ identities before offering them food or drink. They may poke and prod the mummers or ask them questions. To make this a challenge for the hosts, the mummers may stuff their costumes, cross-dress, or speak while inhaling (ingressive speech). Once the mummers have been identified they remove their disguise, spend some social time with the hosts, and then travel as a group to the next home. An old Christmas custom from England, mummering in a version of its modern form can be traced back in Newfoundland into the 19th century. Although it is unclear precisely when this tradition was brought to Newfoundland by the English, the earliest record dates back to 1819. The tradition varied, and continues to vary, from community to community. Some formal aspects of the tradition, such as the mummers play have largely died out, with the informal house-visiting remaining the predominant form.
For a time even the old house-visiting tradition of mummering or jannying seemed to fade, especially in the larger centres of Newfoundland. In the 1980s mummering experienced a revival, thanks to the locally popular musical duo, Simani, who wrote and recorded "The Mummer's Song" in 1982. One researcher has noted that, "in common with many other folk revivals, the resurgence of Christmas mumming in Newfoundland is largely based on a selective and idealised conceptualisation of the custom. As part of this revival, one particular form of mumming - the informal house-visit described above - has come to represent the custom in Newfoundland as a whole, while other forms that were equally prominent in the island’s cultural history have received comparatively little attention."
By the way, the tradition still continues in certain communities - of course, in this day and age, it is usually in small, tight-knit neighborhoods where everyone knows each other. Today, no one in their right mind is going to look out their window, see masked strangers asking to come in and 'entertain' them and give them passage, unless they have a darn good idea who they are in the first place!
There's also a darker side to the belsnickel - in the rural mountain areas, he is a distant cousin to our old K.A.C. buddy Krampus, usually described as dressed in furs and with a mask, looking for children who have been bad during the year. No coals in your stocking courtesy of the belsnickel, though; he is more of a hands-on fellow, preferring to throw out sweets for the kiddies and when they reach out to scoop them up from the floor, he whips out switches and goes after their fingers! Thus the Belsnickel served as a timely reminder to the children to be good ... or else! To learn more about the darker side of this character, read here:
Today, as with many other customs, belsnickeling is all but forgotten. It does live on in different ways, mostly as 'the boogeyman' of Christmas to generations of children whose parents grew up hearing of (and perhaps fearing) his arrival - many families have some variation of the Belsnickel Christmas ornament for their tree, as a more gentle reminder to their kids - there's also Belsnickel Beer and other items with the name ... and, of course, there are still the holiday parties! So, if you're at a particularly raucous affair and the police show up, you can always try the excuse that you were just belsnickeling ... let me know how THAT turns out! :)
I'll be back with another Holiday Head-scratcher tomorrow!
With the winter weather fast approaching (even though we don't have snow here yet), here is a blast from the past - remember those great old Calvin and Hobbes cartoons where Calvin made the most horrible snowman dioramas? Many fans of the strip decided to honor the memory of those wonderful days by making their own live versions - check out '38 Snowmen Nightmares: Calvin and Hobbes in Real Life'! http://weburbanist.com/2010/01/06/38-snowmen-nightmares-calvin-and-hobbes-in-real-life/
Hey, EVERYBODY likes building a snowman, even Frankie!
Come back tomorrow for a look at one of the STRANGEST holiday traditions ever!
Today's entry is rather short and sweet, as it is a busy Saturday all around for the von B. clan ... almost monstrously so ... and just like that, here's today's theme! Let's begin with Gahan Wilson and his warped views of the holidays.
Sticking with the cartoon theme, here are some other ones that I liked, all dealing with Christmas Stockings ...
It's Poinsettia Potpourri Day here at the K.A.C. - one of our theme-less days where we throw our Terrifying Tinsel up and see what sticks! So let's dig in the bag of goodies and see what we can find!
First up (in case you're stuck for that certain something for that certain someone) we have a link to 'Fourteen Bizarre Japanese Toys', including the Samurai Obama, the supremely creepy Lookalike Dolls, the Gotochi Dissection Animals and the hands-down winner for Most Bizarre: the God-Jesus Robot (imagine a Magic 8-Ball that answers your "Yes/No" questions from a higher plane)! They're all awaiting your perusal here: http://www.incrediblethings.com/lists/14-bizarre-japanese-toys/
Let's wrap up today's gifts with a visit from our old K.A.C. buddy Krampus! But not just ANY old Krampus --- this is Hypno Krampus, as rendered by weird artist extraordinaire Travis Louie! I heartily recommend you spend a few minutes checking out the paintings at his website ... there's all SORTS of Krampuses (Krampii?) running amok, as well as such startling denizens as Uncle Six Eyes, Reginald Whiskers McPherson and Maxo the Ultra-Chimp! Prints are available - imagine the surprise when the presents are unwrapped and THIS is staring back at you - the perfect holiday gift!
Just a few more days until that most dreaded day of all: the sleep-deprived, greed-crazed bargain shopping nightmare known as 'Black Friday' - the day after Thanksgiving and the beginning of the holiday shopping season (or as my wife and I life to call it, "Sleeping-In Day")! We made the mistake one year of getting up early to find something for our son and after experiencing the Madness at the Mall swore NEVER AGAIN to go through that! ALL of our Christmas purchases are done through online shopping - I actually start mine in October and am done early every year ... yeah, I'm 'that guy'.
The one and ONLY thing I miss about going to the malls at this time of year is seeing the kids getting (or in many cases, NOT getting) their photos taken with Santa. It's a yearly tradition, and one fraught with peril and heartache (and that's just the parents)! For the young tykes, it's their ultimate nightmare ... after being warned over and over again about being careful around strangers - plop! - they are uncerimoniously dumped on this totally unknown man's lap and pictures are being taken to record the moment! Mom and Dad chortle gleefully at the tyke's distress and the Big Man holding them gives them a candy cane for their screaming and squalling (don't even get me started about not taking candy from a stranger). The only thing worse than that would be being held by a PSYCHOTIC-LOOKING Santa ... on the back of a dead, stuffed donkey ... oh, boy ... I guess even Santa has his limits and couldn't stand that "Dominic the Donkey" song one more time!
Which leads us to our annual look at Sketchy Santas, a favorite website of mine collecting the best of the worst Santa photos from around the world! The mall photos are bad enough, but the vintage photos (as seen on the right) are the ones that really make your blood run cold! I know if I had seen this as a kid, it would have cured me PERMANENTLY of ever wanting ANYTHING to do with the Jolly Fat Man!
But let's be fair: the Mall Santas don't exactly have it easy, either. A good friend of mine is a Mall Santa every year and has some amazing stories to tell about his experiences. Until I can get Dave to put his tales down in print, here's the skinny from ANOTHER Mall Santa, Tom Carmody, who tells it like it is, along with the best and worst parts of the job (hint: Troubled Toddler Tummies)!
With the holidays fast approaching, folks are flocking to the stores, bringing their lists and checking them twice ... no, I'm not talking about their TOY list, I'm talking about their GROCERY list! Why? Because in addition to everything else looney about this time of year, it's all about the F O O D !!!
Let's take a moment, give Christmas a break and talk about the OTHER holiday just around the corner - the one that is SO associated with food, it is even nicknamed "Turkey Day" - yes, the tryptophanic terror known as Thanksgiving. Of course, you COULD show up at the feast with the traditional fare (turkey, stuffing, pies, etc.) ... OR you could blow the family and friends away with something unbelievable ... like a GINGERBREAD TARDIS !!! Just make sure your appetite is bigger on the inside than on the outside (or at the very least, know where the bathroom is)! Oh, yes, it's real - and if you're up to the challenge, here is how you can make your very own!
If you REALLY want to push your luck (or if you have someone who comes every year who eats you out of house and home), try bringing a few of THESE disgusting delectables to your soiree ...
For the discerning coffee drinker, may I recommend Weasel Coffee ... nope, not coffee MADE from weasels - even worse, "Made from coffee beans that are regurgitated by weasels. The beans are then harvested (picked up) to make this fine flavored coffee." You know you want to try this ... here you go!
What's that, you say? All of a sudden you're not thirsty? Not a problem ... let's move on to the main course. Remember, ANYONE can bring turkey to Thanksgiving dinner ... show off your cooking skills with Purple Honey Flavored Sausages ... "served piping hot!"
NO? Oh, c'mon, live a little - it's the holidays, after all! Tell you what, just dip those bad boys in a nice big tin of Red Curry Giant Water Bugs! Mmm, mmm, that's good eatin'! :)
And nothing goes better to wash down this culinary catastrophe than a nice BIG bottle of King Snake Soaked Whiskey --- the folks who bottle it thoughtfully even include the snake! By the way, this is also considered an aphrodisiac, so don't drink TOO much!
Those folks who don't like the gingerbread Tardis can look forward to your OTHER desserts, like the Chocolate Covered Cockroaches, the Squid Flavored Ice Cream or (my personal favorite) Crushed Pearls in a Lollipop! And don't forget the after-dinner treat of the Musk Flavored Lifesavers!
Mouth watering yet? Well, here you go! The link to all these taste treats can be found here (with additional links on where to order them)!
Now that you've got your tree up (see our entry from yesterday), you're going to need ornaments to put on it! The ornaments a person has on their tree always says something about the person himself. In the cases that follow, I believe what they are saying is, "Avoid eye contact and slowly head back out the door!"
For example, this (rather fat) Dracula ornament is probably NOT what you would normally expect to find upon first sight, nor his companion Frankenstein (at right). But decorating a tree is all about balance - if you have one, then you have to have the other.
If that's too grim for you and you want something lighter to set the mood for your tree, then there's always ... a flamingo ... in a Christmas dress ... and boots ... whoa.
Hmmm - strange enough for you? No matter what your preference or interest, there is an ornament out to suit your tastes. Be it Cthulhu or Catwoman, somebody somewhere has you covered. Keep in mind, we're talking the truly outre' ornaments here, not the candy canes and Santa balls, etc., that have been passed down in the family for generations. Speaking of that, with my Mom's passing, we inherited a boxful of her old ornaments (most of which had to be tossed, due to broken bits, etc.) - but now have two glass poodles (or one glass poodle and 'maybe' a glass cat) for the tree. Ever wonder what happens to painted glass ornaments after 25+years in an uninsulated baking attic??? Stick around, I'll post pictures of them later this year!
Want to offend the more uptight members of your family? There's always the Caganer, or "Pooping Elf", ornaments (for more on the Caganer tradition, see my entry of December 16th, 2010) - there's also celebrity Caganers, such as those pictured here! From the Simpsons to celebrities to world political figures, there's a Caganer with dropped trou for everyone in the family! The whole explosion of the unusual ornaments took off at warp speed with the annual Hallmark Star Trek ornaments that were the rage for awhile. Every variation of the Starship Enterprise (many with lights and sounds) then gave way to other figural ornaments, including cast members from the shows, etc. After the popularity of those caught on with the fans, other properties were soon to follow: want the Force to be with your tree? You could decorate it all Star Wars! Want Team Edward of Team Jacob to fight over your beautiful, yet demure decorations? Then the Twilight Keepsakes Collection is for you ... the list goes on and on.
And what, you ask, is the STRANGEST ornament I've uncovered this year? Hands down, it HAS to be this ... the Village People Merman Collection! I know, I know, I thought the same thing - where's the Indian Chief? Probably already snapped up for someone's home! Now I KNOW some of you MUST HAVE these for your own home, so I won't leave you hanging ... the company who makes them is called December Diamonds and here's their link!
As you might expect, our tree is a hodgepodge of ornaments - from traditional family glass baubles to handmade ornaments from friends - from the USS Constitution to Betty Boop and from chupacabras to colored glass, there's a little something for everyone on it. Here is a side view of our tree from last year - click on the picture for a larger look. The white snowman with the picture in his belly was a handmade one when my son was in daycare and the red 'Walt' ornament to the right of that is actually NOT mine - it belonged to my father and is from the late 1940s - early 1950s - probably the oldest ornament we have. There are also wooden ones and hand-crafted knitted ones - and they all tell a story.
So get out there and get some odd ornaments of your own - and let YOUR stories begin!
Walter von Bosau has worked for the Krasker Film and Video Services at Boston University since 1986. He has a lifelong interest in world cinema and has collected movies in all formats over the years, starting with a Super 8mm projector and films in 1973. He has written film-related articles for the magazines TIDES, HARVEST and OBSIDIAN, as well as articles for local Boston papers. He also taught a very well received twelve-part course on the History of Film at the Boston Center For Adult Education. In addition to the Conjure Cinema blog, he also contributes film reviews on the Krasker blog (at http://blogs.bu.edu/kraskerfilm/) and ran a Conjure Cinema Film Series for a number of years. One of his favorite hobbies is to subject his wife Laura and son Justin to new cinematic experiences every chance he gets.