Monday, December 24, 2018

K.A.C. 2018 - T - 1 ...

      And so we come to the end of another year of the K.A.C. Seeing as it is Christmas Eve, I'd like to alert you to an Icelandic custom that is rather near and dear to my heart, the Christmas Book Flood (picture at left). What a great tradition! And rather interesting, given a recent article from - 'A Plea to Resurrect the Christmas Tradition of Telling Ghost Stories' - you can see the article below:

       We're pleased to say that we've kept that tradition alive and well here, with our last entry usually dedicated to just such a tale. This year's story was picked out by my son Justin, a nicely eerie M.R. James entry called 'The Ash Tree'. Here's the best part: it was adapted by the BBC as part of their Ghost Stories For Christmas series, with Sir Christopher Lee playing the author and narrating the stories to select students of his, just as the real professor did years ago. It was also filmed at Kings College, Cambridge, where M.R. James taught. And a final bit of trivia, courtesy of IMDB.COM: "As described in his autobiography, while passing oral tests for scholarship at Eton in the 1930s, young Sir Christopher Lee met M.R. James, the then Provost of the school, in person."

      So turn down your lights and turn up the sound and enjoy this hair-raising tale of terror! 


     With that, it is time for the K.A.C. to retire. May you have the happiest of holidays, the merriest of Christmases and a bountiful New Year. Thank you for reading and following our daily jaunts this month - we'll see you again next year.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

K.A.C. 2018 - T - 2 ...

     Our next to last day begins with this great Doc Savage Fantasy Cover by Keith "Kez" Wilson - he knocks it out of the park again with 'The Terrible Tree' ... and who's that in the background (click on the picture for a close-up look)?! Today we have an Aural Odyssey for you, an assortment of audio you won't hear anywhere else - such as:

You're only 48 hours away from deadline: the presents, the visiting relatives, the crammed house full of family and friends ... you're going to need something to listen to while you clean and wrap presents and all the hundred and one other things you need to do before people arrive. How about an aural time travel back to 1974 and K-mart holiday music? Even typing that sounds weird, but the link below is quite perky - just the thing to have on in the background while getting chores done - give it a listen!

       Before you go, there's one other song you should make sure you listen to today. On Christmas Eve, it is celebrating its 200th birthday. Read which song it is and the story behind it here:

     Once the music has gotten you in the proper Christmas spirit and the chores are done for the day, why not settle in with a hot beverage and a comfy chair and listen to a new take on a Christmas Classic - like what? How about Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol read by Neil Gaiman? I thought that make you perk up and take notice! Find it here! utm_content=Neil+Gaiman+Reads+A+CHRISTMAS+CAROL+for+Christmas&fbclid=IwAR3bGmgbnp4Z_dFIa44uKf7Vb08szNpI7_t4CseXBgqAf976rAZ76gw6HeU

       Somehow, given what the K.A.C. has come to stand for over the years, that Gaiman reading is far too high(brow) a note to end today's entry on ... not to worry, I have JUST the thing! From the recent film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse comes A Very Spidey Christmas, an album that is a blatant cash grab - and knows it! Click on the link below and even if you can't bring yourself to listen to the entire album, just give a listen to the first link, 'Spidey Bells', sung in best William Shatner fashion by Chris Pine! It starts all jolly and festive, then goes into FULL-ON existentialist crisis mode! One of the funnier meta holiday songs I've heard this year:


     Coming Tomorrow: Our Final Entry of 2018 and a fittingly chilling way to wrap up the K.A.C. - we hope you'll join us!

Saturday, December 22, 2018

K.A.C. 2018 - T - 3 ...

     Well, hopefully not! Let's see the contents for today ... hmm, yep, yep, check - no, I take it back, the card is pretty spot on! :)

     That being said, let's dive right in!  First up we have multiple last-minute reports on this year's most eccentric trees, including this Christmas (K)night tree - nice! To see more, click below:



      Next up, another Christmas, another demon-possessed last-minute doll for Christmas! Now some of us might take the high road and say 'computer chip malfunction', but that's not going to bring The Sun running! Look at the footage of the 'must-have' Luvabelle doll and decide for yourself!

     A few days ago (on T - 13, to be exact) we regaled you with the story of the Yule Lads, the 13 mischevious elves of Iceland who come and check in on if the children have been good or bad during the year. BBC Travel had a recent article that explains why this is taken so seriously by the kids and just how ingrained and invested the population is in believing the elves (or 'Little People' as they are known) are real - try 62% of folks DON'T think they are a fairy tale! For an interesting read (and great photos), go here:

      Let's wrap this day up with something I think you ALL will enjoy - the Predator vs. Santa Holiday Special!   =:O !!! Think elves are all warm and fuzzy? Watch as Sprinkles gets revenge when the Predator comes to the North Pole, in the best stop-motion short this side of Robot Chicken - Happy Holidays indeed!


     Coming Tomorrow: Our next to last entry for 2018 - come on back!          

Friday, December 21, 2018

K.A.C. 2018 - T - 4 ...

     You had ONE JOB - just put five columns in a row for the Christmas display while waiting to talk to ... ummm ... check out the newest and WORST Christmas Fails of the year here! 


     To spare you from MORE fails, we've got Exact Instructions on the Do's and Don't of How To Have A Successful Christmas Dinner - you want FESTIVE, we GOT FESTIVE! Just look at that photo on the right ... that little girl's look on her face is a slow burn reminiscent of the final shot in Polanski's REPULSION ... tick, tick ... 'festive' ... check it out here:

     And speaking of Christmas dinner, we've got it all prepackaged and prepared for you ... by robots! That glassy-eyed killer stare from the girl above should have warned you this was coming! In this BBC Future article, an AI was tasked with coming up with the ingredients for a full-course Christmas dinner and the results were cooked up - read here for the taste test!

      You're going to need some appropriate music to listen to while choking down your functionally nutritious dinner - that's where the AI Christmas Carols come in! Our Robot Overlords have been working hard to come up with newer, creepier algorithms for you to learn, including 'Syllabub Chocolatebells' and 'Peaches Twinkleleaves' - get your singing voice ready and join in! 


      Coming Tomorrow: Our final three entries - can you feel the panic setting in? 'Cause these folks you'll read about sure can!


Thursday, December 20, 2018

K.A.C. 2018 - T - 5 ...

     Welcome back to our Final Five! Today we present not Five Golden Rings, but something much more interesting: Five Christmas Ladies Who Can Supplant Santa This Holiday Season, including Gryla, La Befana (pictured at left) and more (thanks to Robin for the link!): 

     We've written about some of these delicate flowers before, such as our entry on Frau Perchta back in 2014: 

     For a more detailed look at her less than savory side, go here:

      As a public service, we should mention that due to global warming, children should no longer be addressing letters to Santa at the North Pole ... for a guaranteed answer, they should be sending them to Himmpfort, Germany instead! It's a bit hard for me to explain, so why not go here and read all about it:

      I've always had a hunch this whole 'eight reindeer and one sleigh around the entire world in one night' was a bit of a scam ... this animated short from the BBC explains the TRUTH! :)

Photo courtesy of Creepy Classics
     Finally, if it's still TOO SOON for some of you to give up on your OTHER favorite holiday, and by that I mean Halloween, take a cue from Brenda Troup of Vandergrift, Pennsylvania, and make some GingerFrank cookies! The best of both worlds! :)

     Coming Tomorrow: Only 4 more to go!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

K.A.C. 2018 - T - 6 ...

     Pssst ... Santa! It's only six more days 'till Christmas! Shouldn't you be - you know - supervising the elves or something? What's that? Automation? Uh, oh ...

     Santa actually works his butt off all December at the malls, plus his one night around the world gig on Christmas eve, so hey, he's entitled to take the rest of the year off, right? Want to know just HOW MUCH he makes in one month? Read here: 

      Have your holiday cards gone out yet? No? You're pushing it, buddy - time's a'wastin' ... if you need inspiration for a nice family holiday photo card, maybe THESE will help!

      If you're a parent (or know someone who is), what is the one TRUE bane of Christmas Eve? Trying to get your hyped-up kids to bed, right? They're bursting with anticipation and you just want some peace and quiet so you can put the presents under the tree and get to bed yourself. Well, speaking of automation, there's a bedtime story app that swears it can get your kid to bed in 20 minutes on Christmas Eve - heck, most parents would like that year round! Called Moshi Twilight, it combines a story with soothing sounds - check it out:

      Our final surprising link regards a secret villain. If your Christmas tree is already wilting, even though you've watered it faithfully and given it plenty of sunshine, it may be because of a surprise culprit - and we thought these things were supposed to be healthy!


   Thanks to The Sun (UK) for all of today's links - I can always count on them for the K.A.C. news that matters!


     Coming Tomorrow: We begin the Final Five!


Tuesday, December 18, 2018

K.A.C. 2018 - T - 7 ...

       Oh-lee-o-lay-dee, o-lay-dee-I-ay,
Donner and Blitzen, away, away,
Oh-lee-o-lay-dee, o-lay-dee-I-oh,
I'm Hardrock!
I'm Coco!
I'm Joe!
Long-time followers of the K.A.C. know these lyrics by heart and also know what they mean ... one week until Christmas! I've written extensively on The Three Little Dwarfs, but if you're new to the game, check out their backstory from my earlier blog post here:

       All aboard! We've got even MORE Creepy Victorian Christmas Cards today, with our buddy Krampus and some of the weirdest Santas you've ever seen, including Ghost Santa, Hunchback Santa and more!


           Finally, to wrap up your day  34 Alternative Christmas Songs (in case you need to get the earwig of The Three Little Dwarfs out of your head) including Jingle Cats! 


     Coming Soon: The final six days will go by in a blur - join us for last-minute frantic holiday stories, our annual Christmas ghost story and more!

Monday, December 17, 2018

K.A.C. 2018 - T - 8 ...

     Good morning! Eight days to go AND a Monday, to boot! With the stresses of the season, a number of people I've talked to are pretty overwhelmed the year, moreso than in year's past. Somehow this particular Krampus painting seems to fit today's entries.

     First up is a look at another round of Creepy Victorian Christmas Cards. We've featured a number of these in previous K.A.C. entries, but there's a good mix of new cards mixed in with the old favorites ... the true stunner in this batch is the third one down, with the rats and cat ... "compliments of the season" - seriously, who would SEND a card like that? Take a gander at what Hallmark's missing out on below: 


Next up is the 'Raging Santa' story - and yes, it happened at yet another UK 'Christmas Grotto' - the headline for this incident is particularly appealing: 'Raging' Santa Angers Parents With Beard-Ripping Tantrum' ... want to know why Kris Kringle went Krazy and yelled at kids to (and I'm quoting here) "Get the F*** out!"? Of course you do - read on!


     We've written before about the Julbocken, or Yule Goat. A new article just came out with more observations of its beginnings and its annual (fiery) end - check out 'The Pagan Origins of the Yule Goat' below!


     We'll 'wrap' up today's column with this article from The Guardian (UK) answering some of the more pressing questions of the season, such as, "What exactly IS a mince pie?" and "How do you pay for a maid-a-milking'?" Satisfy your curiosity here!


     Coming Tomorrow: We're coming up to the ONE WEEK mark - which means our annual visit from our favorite Three Dwarfs and more!     

Sunday, December 16, 2018

K.A.C. 2018 - T - 9 ...

     NINE DAYS TO GO!!! Stressed out yet? Feel like the fellow here getting berated by the Christmas pudding? Feel free to copy this and tape it to your fridge as a friendly reminder that what you eat over the holidays comes back to haunt you!


     Think YOU'RE already tired of the whole annual rigamarole regarding Christmas? Try being on the OTHER side of the counter this time of year, especially in retail or the restaurant/bar industry. An interesting take on it comes from the photographer of this picture, "Weary In A Winter Wonderland". Read it here! 

       One of my favorite sources for ridiculous 'true stories' back in the day was the Weekly World News, where you would hear about the ubiquitous Bat Boy and his escapades or the always eye-catching 'Face Of Satan' seen in cloud/dog food/shower/etc. They never failed to have some screaming headline to make you impulse buy at the supermarket checkout line. Sadly defunct now, a number of their stories are archived online, like this holiday favorite from 2008: Santa Unfrozen! Turns out it was a regular hazard for the Big Guy back in the day ... my favorite part was the scientific way the Elves saved the day - "Finally, a daring combination of fresh chocolate chip cookies and gamma radiation saved the day. Head of the North Pole research department Sprinkles Von Bohrstein came up with the holiday saving idea to combine Santa’s favorite treat with a gamma powered “Cheer Emitter."" MAN, do I miss this paper! Relive where journalism majors used to go to die here! 

      Occasionally the WWN could surprise you, when they ran out of stories such as "UFO Alien Having Bill Clinton's Baby!", and the like (I'd REALLY like to see what headlines they could come up with today!) - case in point, this touching story of 'Lincoln's Last Christmas Gift' from 2009. 


     And with that, we'll end the K.A.C. on a (admittedly rare) high note - see you tomorrow!

Saturday, December 15, 2018

K.A.C. 2018 - T - 10 ...

     Good morning! Ten days to go and look what we have here - we were just talking about the Yule Lads three days ago, and on Thursday, ran this picture as their wallpaper along with this snippet:

 Iceland awaits the Yule Lads

     "If you’re spending the holidays here in Reykjavik, be sure to keep an eye out for Sausage-Swiper, Window-Peeper, and Door-Slammer. They’re three of the Yule Lads, a group of 13 mischievous pranksters who—according to local folklore—visit homes one by one to leave rewards or punishments for children on each of the 13 days leading up to Christmas. Tonight, the Gully Gawk is scheduled for a visitation, waiting for an opportunity to sneak into the cowshed and steal milk. Modern versions of the lads sometimes portray them in a benevolent light, even dressed like Santa Claus, but other stories are dark. The lads are said to be the sons of Gryla, a mountain troll with an appetite for mischievous children. Let’s hope we’re on the nice list this year."

      The Lads could find better use for their time (or call their Mom and kitty in) by bedeviling the 1%, especially those who try to outdo themselves every year for bragging rights in the frivolous department. And every year, right on time, to HELP them spend their money on bizarre stuff, comes Neiman-Marcus and their annual Fantasy Book. This year's selections are way out there, including a "Larger Than Life Sculpture by Bjorn Okholm Skaarup" (designer of the Hippo Ballerina pictured at right) that STARTS at $200,000! Other choices include a solar powered yacht, ONE MILLION pieces of candy, including your own customized candy bar and my personal favorite (and I'm quoting here), "Fulfill Your Fantasy Of Becoming A Secret Agent"! To find out what that includes and to see the other offerings, click below:

     But hey, why should N-M have ALL the fun? Want to see what happens when the idle rich come to their senses and realize they just bought WHAT? For HOW MUCH? Let's take a quick jump over to London and read about the uproar that went out when Harrod's tried to sell a Dolce & Gabbana DESIGNER REFRIGERATOR for £36,000 - the exact same make and model that usually goes for
£129 - just thrown on your hand-painted front door and voila! Instant markup! This didn't end well all around, as you can read here:

      Next up, something a little more affordable for the rest of us, although WHY you would buy this is a complete mystery! Remember on December 9th when I reported on the Jimmy Dean Sausage-Scented Wrapping Paper (and as an aside, it could probably be used to wrap all that RECALLED SAUSAGE WITH METAL BITS that was reported on the 11th - if you missed it, details are here: ) - anyway, just throw that all out - that stuff's dangerous! We've got something EVEN BETTER! Try the Colonel's KFC Fried-Chicken Scented FIRELOG! The mind boggles while the mouth waters ... read it and weep:

     The best part of this olfactory absurdity comes with the item description: " ...the one-of-a-kind logs made with 100 percent recycled materials can burn up to three hours. They “may result in a craving for fried chicken” and “attract bears or neighbors who are hungry.”

     Again, THEY MAY ATTRACT BEARS ... fair price to pay for having your house smell like a greasefest, right? But here's the sad, almost unbelievable part ... they SOLD OUT within hours of being announced! 

     Chin up - I'm sure they're rushing to make more! So get your bib on and your bear repellent ready!


     Coming Tomorrow: We're down to the single digits and ramping up the crazyness - join us!

Friday, December 14, 2018

K.A.C. 2018 - T - 11 ...

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     Welcome back! Eleven days left - time is running out! Sniff, sniff ... umm, I don't mean to be indelicate, but did any of you 'step in something'? No? Well, let's see ... ah, never mind. It's only the scented 'wonderfulness' of our winner of Worst Toy of the Year, the POOPSIE SURPRISE UNICORN! How BAD can Poopsie possibly be, you ask? She looks cute enough, right? Try "A unicorn that POOS SLIME" bad - want to know the REAL horror of Poopsie? She's hugely in demand and is going to set you back somewhere in the ballpark of $50.00 !!! Poopsie isn't the ONLY ONE who's going to be pooing slime when you fork over your hard-earned cash! Read about her and the other biggest sellers in this year's UK toy roundup here: 

     Let's stay with this page for a moment and talk about the one character even MORE popular (poopular?) than Poopsie, Kevin the Carrot. Just go with me on this ... Kevin starred in the Aldi's Christmas ad (seen below - no, go ahead and watch it, we'll wait!) ... 

     Cute enough, right? Well, something exceedingly weird happened next - people in Great Britain went INSANE over Kevin and HAD TO HAVE the Kevin stuffies that Aldi was promoting ... and promptly ran out, leading to RIOTING and price-gouging on eBay and the like! Over here, we go crazy on Black Friday for the last Big Screen TV - it was NOTHING compared to what happened over there for a STUFFED CARROT! Read it and weep! 

     ... and here ... 

     Again, folks, it's a STUFFED CARROT! What the Hell???


     Let's check back in over at the UK - SURELY the folks who put on Santa's Grotty Grottos know they can't keep fooling the public every year, right? Allow me to introduce you to 'Santa's Enchanted Village' - if by 'enchanted' you mean bales of hay in a drafty warehouse ... and just wait until you see how much parents were charged for this!

     But at least they HAD enchanted hay to stroll by! Consider the case of the creepy Brazilian Santa park Albanoel ... an idea whose time has long since come and gone. Originally planned as the beginning of a theme park, which would have expanded to different themes as they built upon it - think Westworld ... hmmm, maybe not the best example here ... but then closed down as the developers lost their shirts over the deal, the park was never torn down and now has some of the creepiest abandoned Santa photos you'll ever see! Read on!


     Coming Tomorrow: With only 10 days to go, we take a look at how the 1% are gearing up to spend (read: waste) their money this year - and there are some doozies! Plus more surprises!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

K.A.C. 2018 - T - 12 ...

     Good morning! We've got an even dozen days to go and time is of the essence - so what better way to start your day by WASTING those precious moments watching these rare holiday oddities? I thought you'd agree!

     First up, we might as well get this out of the way right now. From the album Shatner Claus, it's the mellow tones (?) of Captain Kirk talking/singing (??) his 'unique' rendition of everyone's favorite red-nosed hoofer, Rudolph! 


     Next, we turn the Wayback Machine dial all the way to 1931, smack in the heart of The Great Depression, and this cheerful (?) holiday cartoon, Mickey's Orphans. As the link states: "A bunch of orphan kids (depicted as kittens) are left on Mickey's doorstep in a basket. They make life into hell as Mickey, Minnie, and Pluto try to give them a Christmas party." Or as I like to put it, "No good deed will go unpunished!" 


     Back to the Wayback Machine and we move forward in time to 1955 and a Nativity film that is one of the strangest I've seen in recent memory, and that's saying something! Called The Little Lamb, this one has it all: Iridescent Infants, Awesome Angels of the Lord (who give a pretty good accounting of themselves just WHY the shepherds were scared to death when THIS appeared in the sky, booming down at them!) and the most absolutely comatose Mary you've ever seen! I mean, to be fair, she's got reason to be pretty overwhelmed (as we all know), but usually the Marys shown in paintings and film are always rather beatific and happy ... this one just wants a nap!  :)  What's even MORE impressive are the acting pedigrees in this short. First, Azar the Shepherd (who doesn't give two hoots if the titular lamb is alive or dead, he's just That Tired of chasing after it - which seems to me to go against everything being a shepherd is all about ... I mean, you HERD SHEEP for a living, man! Take some PRIDE in your work! Anyway ...) is played by an uncredited Morris Ankrum, a 1950's stalwart character actor in numerous sci-fi and horror films, and a genuine surprise here. But the BIGGEST surprise is our uncredited Mary - played here by none other than Hollywood icon Maureen O'Sullivan! I'd LOVE to know the back story to this short: my guess is they were both contractually obligated to do this, since they most likely didn't have veto power over what the studio assigned them, but that's just a guess. And they save the best part for last: how to keep Baby Jesus warm ... hmmm, WHAT is the name of this film again? Time to hit play and be amazed!

      Sticking with the year 1955, let's end on a high note with someone who is MUCH more attentive and involved with the holiday proceedings, Ms. Betty Lou Varnum! Who, you ask? Only the host of the longest-running children's show in American history, The Magic Window! The show ran 43 years and it's a nostalgic delight! This Christmas-themed show ran on December 16th, and is all over the map, with her dog Domino EATING the ornaments off the tree, a visit with her puppet friends that goes awry as only locally produced shows can, and visits with guests who talk holiday topics such as LIVE BATS AND GUN SAFETY, and more! I'm also including links about the show and Betty Lou (who is still with us as of this writing) ... take some time and watch this rarity. It's my favorite item I've found for this year's calendar and is full of holiday cheer of the oddest sort! Special thanks to the Special Collection Iowa State University Library for providing this - it truly IS a 'Magic Window' into Christmas Past!  - The episode - Wiki entry on the show - Wiki entry on Betty Lou


     Coming tomorrow: Holiday Potpourri Day, featuring a scattering of stories from around the globe as only we can tell them!

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

K.A.C. 2018 - T - 13 ...

     "On the 13th Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me ..." - wait a minute, I hear you say - aren't there only TWELVE Days of Christmas? Not necessarily! Join me as we jaunt across the ocean to Iceland and let me introduce you to The Yule Lads!

     The Yule Lads (or Yuletide-lads, or Yule Men) are a long-standing folklore tale for Icelandic children; a variation on other persona (such as Krampus) who come for naughty children on the 13 days before Christmas - why 13? Because there are 13 DIFFERENT Yule Lads, all with their own personalities and specialties of keeping young boys and girls good little angels.

     While we haven't written about the Lads before, we HAVE written about their Mom and their house pet! The boys are all the children of the Gryla, the ogress who comes and finds bad children, throws them in a sack and takes them home to put in her stew! 

     The ones Mama Gryla missed would be scooped up by her cat, the 
Jólakötturinn ... and HE would eat you, sometimes for being naughty, but mostly if you didn't have NEW CLOTHES for Christmas! I know, messed up, right? The theory was the tale of the Icelandic Christmas Cat was a warning tale for lazy sewists and seamstresses to have their work done in time for the holidays - or else!

     The stories the parents told must have been TRULY horrendous, as over time the consensus came to tone it down on the horror elements, since they were scaring their children to death with this army of ogres coming down from the mountains to find any excuse to EAT them! Oh, and also there were originally 82 Yule Lads! 

     The 82 devolved into 13, and their antics went from hair-raising to mischievous, mainly stealing small items from your house or eating your sausages ... ??? Yeah, it's a thing, just go with it. 

     For the full list of the 13 Yule Lads and what they do, check here:

     For our original write-up on Gryla and her kitty, check here:

     And finally, for more on Gryla and and her kin, check here:

     So make DAMN sure you've been good AND that you have some article of new clothing on Christmas Eve, otherwise ... CHOMP!


     Coming Tomorrow: We couldn't be called Conjure Cinema and not spread some Christmas Cheer without more rare and off-the-wall films of the season - come back tomorrow for our cinematic time sink and prepare to be mesmerized!