Sunday, December 17, 2017
One thing you've got to hand it to about ol' SC - he makes sure NOBODY gets forgotten come Christmastime and that EVERYBODY gets a present! What's that, Kong, old buddy? A Fay Wray doll? Yeah, you deserve it, ya big galoot!
Today is Reader Submission Day, where we highlight items and pictures you've sent us over the past month, and this year's crop is a pretty excellent one, so let's dig in, shall we?
First up (from Gi Marie) is nine pages of Epic Christmas Fails - I debated holding on to these and parceling them out over the years, but more and more keeps falling into my lap all the time and that seemed stingy - plus these bears were giving me the eye! Wallow on in and behold the Holiday Horror!
I found this next piece and put it aside for a future article, then friends mailed it to me as well, so here you go. The one piece of holiday tradition I've never covered (yet) is the whole Elf On The Shelf phenomenon that a number of parents put their tykes through each year, to make sure they're 'good for Santa'. I've seen simple elf arrangements and elaborate nightly rituals to see what Mr. Elf has gotten up to when everyone's asleep. I've also seen the blowback from angry people who've had it up to HERE with this pesky interloper and aren't going to take it anymore! Well, in this technological age, if you don't have the time for the nightly Elf scenarios, may we recommend this handy time-saver ... the Elf Dummy Child Surveillance Camera! Now you and your family can go all '1984' and have Mr. Elf report your child's bad behavior back to Big Brother (you know who we mean) instantly! Not only that, it also comes with 'Official Elf Reports', printouts to give to your kid that he or she has been naughty or nice ... the perfect Police State Christmas before they're shipped off for bad behavior! All set to traumatize the tykes? Then here you go!
The jaw-dropping STAR of today's stories comes from my son Justin ... so this is on him! Christmas is also a time for love ... and weddings. For romance ... and weddings. For obsession ... and weddings. What's wrong with all that, you ask? May we present Ms. Amanda Liberty, a Leeds woman celebrating her engagement to Lumiere ... a 90-YEAR-OLD CHANDELIER! If we were giving out awards for the strangest story we've covered this year, this would be our winner! Gird your loins for this one - read on!
Hey, you say, that last story really wasn't PC! Rather than apologize, just to make sure no one is offended for any reason, please read and follow these guidelines for a PC Christmas!
Coming Tomorrow: We hit the one-week mark with the annual return visit of three of our best (if tiny) friends, plus ANOTHER earwig that we featured years ago on this page ... and more surprises! Join us!
Saturday, December 16, 2017
Our first story out of the gate is one of a rather 'unique' keepsake ornament you can now get for your tree. Anyone can put cremated Aunt Irma in a box that just sits around doing nothing ... get with it, folks! Add her to your yearly tree decorations! To read all about it (and maybe get ahead on haunting YOUR family's tree for decades to come), click on the link below:
The good folks at Middle of Beyond (who have been featured in these pages more than once) return this year with a particularly stellar Tree Topper to do your tree up right, especially if you are a conspiracy theorist or 'contactee' - curious? Let's put it another way - what if the Christmas Star was MORE than just a star? What if it was a SHIP? And what if it brought forth ... THIS?
Have to have one for your tree? Here you go!
Coming Tomorrow: Reader Submission Day, where we turn the weirdness over to YOU!
Friday, December 15, 2017
A number of years ago, this wasn't even a thing - now, Ugly Christmas Sweaters are a global phenomenon, with offices and schools having yearly competitions over who can come up with the worst designs. I only gave in once to the madness to purchase my Krampus sweater (still the warmest piece of clothing I own and one I wear all winter, not just at Christmastime), so I can justify its existence. Consider these bad boys, though - brought out maybe ONCE a year for display and then put away again, never to be seen until the following year. If your tastes change, then what? Foist them off to Goodwill? Actually, the one here on the BU campus WOULD be a great place to drop them off, as the students would probably fight to the death for some of these designs. Truth to tell, I would love the Godzilla sweater at the beginning of this entry ... but they don't have it in my size. :( It's always the way. So without further ado, let's start with the Sun's roundup of this year's stellar entries:
Not to be outdone, the Tech Geeks have rallied with their OWN 'cryptocurrency' sweaters ... but you still have to PAY for them in old-fashioned cash! The link below tells you all you need to know (as well as shows you even more designs):
But the winner this year HAS to go to the primary school who sent out in their newsletter a notice to parents to have their youngsters come in with their Most Special Jumpers for Christmas Charity Day. The only problem? They didn't look QUITE closely enough at the sweater they used to illustrate the day itself ... and then the reindeer poop hit the fan! Rather than spoil the surprise, I'm going to let you click the link below and just imagine how well this all went down:
Last but not least, we just had our own Ugly Holiday Sweater contest here at BU where I work and here's a link to the fine selections. Sadly I didn't hear about this in time, since I would have gladly represented in all my Krampus finery for the occasion - but take a look at who was there!
Coming Tomorrow: Ashes to Ashes, Ornaments to Ornaments ... and that's not the STRANGEST tale we've got - see you then!
Thursday, December 14, 2017
But don't let those Food Fails stop you - there's always someone, somewhere who sees these horrors and says, "Hold my beer", and tries to top them all - in this case, it would be more appropriate to say, "Hold my pint". Pub owner John McGinn of The Fens has the locals up in arms over his newest Christmas pudding confection - not because of the look or the taste - no, because of the name! How bad can it be, you ask? Would you believe ... Santa's Dick? Read on!
You know who could really use those Christmas Eyebrows and Lips? This poor university student Kelsey Hall who lost a bet and now has to dress up as a Christmas Tree for the rest of the semester! The moral of this story is be careful what you wish for! Read all about her plight below:
Coming Tomorrow: Only 10 more days to go! The days are flying by and it's getting colder out - what better time to look at this year's collection of Horrible Christmas Jumpers (Sweaters to you), including one that went viral in a school's newsletter and caused a horrible ruckus ... bundle up and come back tomorrow!
Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Speaking of all things dead causing a ruckus this holiday season, let's get in the old puddle jumper and see what havoc is going down in the UK. It never fails ... if I wait long enough, the Sun or one of the other tabloids comes out with story after story of fly-by-night holiday 'grottos' (think 'Santa's Enchanted Village' over here) that are done on the cheap to bring in the rubes and rack up the holiday pelf - stick up a few cardboard cutouts in an empty field, add some scruffy, mange-eaten reindeer, perhaps a slovenly Santa and you're good to go! And then it all goes wrong.
Such as? Consider if you will (he said in his best Rod Serling voice) the case of the Racked-Up Rudolph. The Mall in Maidenstone, Kent, had this plastic reindeer head mounted on the wall as children waited in line to visit Santa, causing one six-year-old boy to go into hysterics thinking Santa had killed Rudolph! The Mall quickly removed Rudolph, the Dead-Nosed Reindeer, but the best part is the other parent's reaction to all this, including this classic comeback line:
“No wonder kids are growing up in a namby-pamby society if one complaint gets a plastic reindeer head taken down.” To read how this whole Holiday Horror Show went down, click here:
Too traumatic for your tyke? Not a problem, take him outside to see a Christmas parade instead! What could POSSIBLY go wrong? Ummm, well, when the headline reads 'Hamley's Christmas Toy Parade a 'shocking shambles' as kids get crushed and parents fight for a better view of Peppa Pig', you KNOW you're in trouble - read on!
OK, one last chance, you say. The Mall was a disaster, the parade was worse ... let's scrap this whole mess and head out to Sheffield - they've got a new holiday attraction called Santa's Reindeer Puppet Parade - it's puppets, right? They're not scary! EVERYBODY LOVES PUPPETS! Uh, oh ... read it and weep!
Breaking News! Minutes after I posted today's page, comes news of yet ANOTHER Winter Wonderland disaster - read all about 'Santa's Mudbath' here!
Coming Tomorrow: Even MORE Christmas Food Fails and some late-breaking surprises! Hurry back and see!
Tuesday, December 12, 2017
# 1 - Bettie Page
# 2 - Glenn Ford
# 3 - Idris Elba (also seen in the cartoon at left)
#'s 4, 5 and 6 - Bill Murray, Miley Cyrus and George Clooney
# 7 - Mary Tyler Moore
# 8 - Jane Fonda
# 9 - Jayne Mansfield
# 10 - Ryan Gosling
# 11 - Elizabeth Taylor
# 12 - Robert Vaughn
Tired of the tinsel? Pissed off about the pine needles? Had it with the holly? Don't want to deal with the crowds, the driving, the bickering over which tree is the Exact Right One, year after year? Have we got a solution for you! Chuck it all and get with the new, hot trend sweeping the nation - introducing Ladder Trees! No, I'm not making this up! Get with the hip, hot, new way to get your inner Kringle on for the holidays - no muss, no fuss, easy to set up and break down ... and it's good for the environment! Just take a stepladder, open it up, put boards of varying lengths across the midsection and you're ready to decorate! I'm rather partial to this entry, if only because their 'star' in top is a movie projector (which is rather brilliant, if you stop and think of it, as it would throw a bright light across your room ... and you could show Christmas movies!) - or as one article put it, it's a 'minimalist hipster's tree'. :)
Just to make sure you get the WHOLE gamut of choices available out there for ladder tree possibilities, I'm including links to TWO separate articles with plenty of picture ideas - what's that, you say? You only have a single ladder, not one that folds out? Fear not, we can even show you how to turn THAT into a tree - read on!
Coming Tomorrow: Put on your galoshes and your best slicker - we're heading across the Pond to once again visit Santa's Grotty Grottos in the UK. It's an annual phenomenon that never fails to amaze me and it goes Horribly Wrong Every Single Year! Come join us and look on in horror as these Holiday Hellions put the 'Blight' in 'Old Blighty'!
Monday, December 11, 2017
For now, put aside your worries and put ON your thinking caps as we present the 2017 edition of Kringle's Khristmas Kuties at the K.A.C.! If you're new to the quiz, it goes like this: below you will see pictures of various celebrities in seasonal poses - all you have to do is match the names to the people! Grab some eggnog and your best pair of glasses and see how many you recognize ... they're harder than you think! Answers tomorrow!
|# 4, 5 and 6|
Sunday, December 10, 2017
To soften the blow, The Guardian (UK) brought back an article from 2012 by Emma Freud about her teenage crush on David and how it all came full circle when she was an adult writing for them. Why do I mention it now? Because of the Christmas surprise it contains - it's a sweet, nostalgic story that, read now, is rather melancholy, but shows that celebrities are people, too - read it below:
During the four years the series was on the air, they did have a few Christmas episodes. Here is a clip from one of them, with guest star Dean Jagger:
Also, for those of you who aren't aware of it (I wasn't until I read his obituary), the Cassidy bloodline continues on TV to this day, as his daughter Katie Cassidy can be seen every week on the CW's Legends of Tomorrow TV series as Laurel Lance/Black Canary.
Saturday, December 9, 2017
After reliving my moment of radio immortality from my youth yesterday, I'm back with more recent holiday strangeness for you today - let's see what's in Santa's sack for this year's Christmas Potpourri ...
First up, the Sun (UK) has a list of the 50 Worst Christmas Gifts that people get (and give) every year - how many of them have YOU received?
Next up, staying with the Sun for awhile, they've been running a series this past month of 'Why is ... ?' articles regarding the holidays. This entry answers why we celebrate Christmas on December 25th, how it ties in to 'Dies Natalis Solis Invicti', and a number of other questions. Give it a look!
Moving back to OUR side of the pond for a moment, how dedicated are you to the whole Christmas season? Send some cards out? Get some presents? Attend the insufferable holiday party, maybe even host an annual occasion at your place for family and friends? Think that makes you the ultimate Christmas guy? Well, guess again - would you change your name and live the Santa Claus life the whole YEAR ROUND? NO? Guess what? Someone did - and got himself a 'Mrs. Claus' to share the dream - read on!
We'll close out today's entries with this interesting piece that just ran over at CNN, entitled 'The Strange and Fascinating Stories Behind Your Favorite Christmas Songs.' Read (and listen) here!
Coming Tomorrow: We pay tribute to a whole slew of partridges in a pear tree - well, ONE in particular, as we once again set the Wayback Machine to the past and look at Christmas with the recently deceased David Cassidy and The Partridge Family - join us for a groovy time!
Friday, December 8, 2017
As many of you know, my secondary school education was spent in two different military schools. They were extremely strict (as you can imagine) and we had very limited access to television. Most of us (myself included) had transistor radios with headphones to listen to after hours in our barracks. Among the programming I would listen to in 1974 was The National Lampoon Radio Hour, the King Biscuit Flour Hour and a personal favorite that I would continue listening to well into college, The Doctor Demento Show.
The good Doctor (real name Barry Hansen, who comes from my old stomping grounds for many a year, Minneapolis, Minnesota) has a long-running program which began in 1970 which plays tunes (to quote Wikipedia) "specializing in novelty songs, comedy, and strange or unusual recordings dating from the early days of phonograph records to the present."
He also has probably forgotten more than most people ever knew about a variety of music and the artists who recorded them, having a Master's Degree in ethnomusicology and folklore.
From 1970 on he used that knowledge to put out a radio show unlike ANY other, featuring artists many had never heard of and introducing new artists who would become household names (he is credited with discovering "Weird Al" Yankovic and introducing him to a national audience). You can read more about him and his accomplishments via his Wikipedia page linked below:
So how, you ask, does this tie in to your humble Conjure Cinema Curator and/or Christmas? Well, every year in December the Doctor would go through the vault and pull out enough material for his Christmas shows - and I'm not just talking one or two songs, like today's "Dominick the Donkey" or "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" ... I'm talking FOUR SOLID WEEKS of songs, through the entire month (maybe that's where I developed MY love of them)! His two hour show would follow the same format: the first hour and a half would feature a variety of weird songs, with the Doc giving fascinating tidbits about the tunes and the artists. Then for the final half-hour, it was the time for the Top Ten - the ten most requested songs of the week voted on by the listeners.
Fast forward to 1974. I had been listening faithfully to the show ever since I first found out about it earlier in the year, and more than once ran the risk of getting demerits and having to work them off for laughing too loudly over the more ridiculous tunes after lights out. I was an officer at my school and had an idea: send in a petition from the kids at our military academy to make a certain song Number One for one of his shows. During the mandatory study hall time over a couple of evenings, I took my petition room to room, explaining what it was about and asking those kids interested in it if they wanted to sign it. I did NOT force anyone to sign it, so let's get that out of the way right now. A lot of the other kids knew and liked the show and thought it would be a lark to do so, so they signed the paper and promptly forgot about it. When all was said and done, I had slightly over ONE HUNDRED signatures.
By now I'm sure the burning question you're asking is, "What was the song?" Well, it WASN'T a Christmas tune (although there IS Christmas in the band's name, so it qualifies that way!) - I had no idea when (or IF) the Doctor would ever even SEE our petition, but I sent it off right before Thanksgiving and left it to Fate. The song was a favorite of mine that I had heard a number of times on the show, a daffy ditty called "The Martian March", by the Roto-Rooter Good Time Christmas Band (pictured at left) - the band were favorites of Doctor Demento (he even used part of their "Pico and Sepulveda" music for his opening theme song to the show) and a number of their songs had been played over time.
Fast forward again: the evening of Sunday, December 8th, 1974. My roommate and I have our radios on, headphones fully in place, listening to Doctor Demento's show, with this week's theme being "The Coming of Christmas". After the usual hilarity, we get down to the # 1 Song of the Week ... and, yep, you guessed it, the Doctor READ MY FULL LETTER ON THE AIR (with my name and the name of our school and all!) and happily pronounced The Martian March as the Number One Song Of the Week! My roommate and I were STUNNED ... and were even MORE SO when we started hearing whoops and hollers from the different barracks! :)
The next morning at reveille we were SURE there was going to be a SLEW of demerits passed about and there probably would have been, except for a number of the students explaining what had happened to the Commandant of the school, who called me into his office and had me tell the entire story to him, front to back. He must have figured ANY publicity for the school was GOOD publicity, as he let it slide.
There's actually a great follow-up to this story: I received a few days later in the mail a small reel-to-reel tape (similar to the one pictured at left) with the entire "Number One" segment on it! It was sent to me from the local radio station who had aired the episode, which was very nice of them. Once I heard it and mentioned it to the Commandant, he had me INTERRUPT CLASSES to go and play it over and over in each classroom, so EVERYONE got to hear it! :)
But wait, there's even more to the story! When it came time to leave for Christmas vacation, I made a stop at the radio station (I used to drive from my school in Alabama to my home in Boston and back again during the break, at age 17 ... but THAT'S a story for another time!) to thank them for the tape. It was a TINY station, with only two people on when I stopped in - the station manager and the current on-air DJ. I explained who I was and they were delighted to meet me, as it had caused some notoriety for them, as well. The manager told me she had something ELSE for me from the show, as well - they had kept it at the station, but thought it was only fair that I have it to remember the moment by: an Honorary Doctorate of Dementia from the show for having the Number One Song Of the Week! :)
Now wait a moment, you say: ANYBODY could sit here and spin such a lurid Christmas tale, right? WHERE'S THE PROOF? Well, I'm glad you asked! The good Doctor is still going strong (at 76!) - although his show is no longer on the airwaves, it is still being produced as an online show. The best part? He has archived of ALL his old shows, INCLUDING the one this tale is about. So if you want to hear the ENTIRE two hour show, commercials and all, just pony up $2.00 for the file ... TWO DOLLARS gets you access to a piece of proto-K.A.C. history AND supports the Doctor and his continuing efforts to make sure we all (as he would say) "STAY DEMENTED!" Here's the link to the playlist of the show - should you want to hear it as it happened back on that momentous day, click on the 'Online Listening' link at the top of the page:
Coming Tomorrow: Christmas Potpourri Day descends on us for 2017, and it's the usual scattershot mess of stories from around the globe - we hope you'll give it a whirl!
Thursday, December 7, 2017
Next up is the gingerbread Santa's Sleigh and Reindeer set ... should be easy, right? Comes with directions and everything - umm, well, at least the 'baker' had a sense of humor about the Epic Fail! Take a look at this and 19 other culinary disasters over at this link from The Delish:
Coming Tomorrow: The first of two Christmas stories from my past, this one involving a moment of nationwide fame for your humble Conjure Cinema Curator ... it's a rather, shall we say, 'demented' tale - and you can read about it AND hear it as it happened! Curious? Tune in tomorrow!
Wednesday, December 6, 2017
Today we take our annual look at the Spirit of Christmas as seen through the competing Christmas ads of the UK. On this side of the pond, commercials are seen as a necessary evil, but in Britain, people eagerly await the annual 'make or break' Christmas ads from stores such as Marks & Spencers, John Lewis and Sainsbury. This year's ads are already out and the people have voted: some good, some not so good ... and one that was voted as - umm - rather horrifying, actually, with an earworm song that you can't get rid of once you've heard it!
Our first entry comes from the John Lewis stores, featuring Moz the Monster (seen at right). While not a heart-tugging home run as some of their past year's ads have been, it's still a cute ad. Take a look at it here:
Not to be outdone, Marks and Spencers (John Lewis' biggest competitors) bring out the big guns with none other than Paddington Bear, who makes it his mission to help 'Santa' deliver gifts to the folks in his neighborhood on Christmas Eve. Not surprisingly, this gets my vote for Best Ad for the 2017 season - but I readily admit up front that Paddington and I have a long history together, so I should probably disqualify myself here.
Give it a gander:
Up next, Peacocks decided to go all musical with their ad - I'm going to say right now that unless you follow UK music (and especially Britain's Got Talent), you're not going to know half the people in this ad. The only ones I know are the brothers who form Jedward, and that's only because I've seen them on The Graham Norton Show. This ad is probably more of a hit over in the UK ... or not, once you take a look at the comments section below the link. Sounds like a bit of a misfire there this year, Peacocks!
You would think THAT would have been the musical number folks were up in arms about, right? Guess again! The true Christmas earworm taking over the British Isles comes from Sainsbury's ad and features none other than our very own Kermit The Frog, Rollo, the Singing Dog and a number of cameos from both regular folks and UK celebs. It's called 'Every Bit of Christmas' and will get on Every One Of Your Nerves! Forewarned is Forearmed ... here you go! And I know I've asked this before, but seriously, what is it over there with the link between Christmas and Brussels Sprouts ???
Finally, here's the link to the other UK ads, from Lidl to Tesco's and from Aldi to Asda. The Tesco ad is another favorite, concentrating on the Christmas Turkey as seen in a number of different families' homes (I'm particularly fond of the harried Mum who has had enough of the banter from the rest of the family and tells them all to "get out of my kitchen, all of ya!" :) )
Before we retire for the day, there was breaking news yesterday of a nefarious Grinch-like creature who almost 'stole Christmas' in Sea Girt, New Jersey. A picture of the culprit follows is at right and the full story can be found at this link:
Yes, you're reading that right .. the squirrel was 'charged with criminal mischief' ... NOW we're talking K.A.C. material! :)
Coming Tomorrow: Our annual look at Christmas Food Fails - save room for these!