Friday, December 24, 2021

K.A.C. 2021 - T - 01 Day ...


     Hello and welcome to our final entry for the year ... as usual with the K.A.C., we always like to end by bringing back a long-held tradition, that of the Christmas Ghost Story. This year's tale comes from E.F. Benson (1867-1940), and was written in 1912. It's called Between The Lights, and that's the best time to read it, between the last light of dusk and the cold light of the moon, preferably among friends and a roaring fire, as can be found by the protagonist in our tale. Settle in and read along here: 



          Speaking of stories, there's never a better day to settle in with a new book than today. It's Jolabokaflod Day, a tradition we've taken to heart in our house. Our place already looks like we hijacked a branch library and a used bookstore that went put of business at the same time and let the books fall where they may. So what do Laura and I always do when we go on vacation or a road trip? Plan to stop at all the used bookstores along the way! We celebrate this every year with our son Justin. The one gift we can open on Christmas Eve is a book for the evening. Why not make it part of your holiday tradition, as well? So finish wrapping those presents or mailing out those cards and remember to take some 'Me Time' for yourself and settle in for some peaceful reading while you wait up for Santa.


     Not only books tell a story. Take a look at the recent CNN/Style article about 40 Years Of White House Christmas Ornaments. A new one is designed each year and each one has a fascinating tale to tell: 




This may be a first, in all of our thirteen years of doing the K.A.C. We're leaving on a high note, with nary an oddball story in sight today - " ... not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse". Perhaps it's just as well; after a month of their various hijinks, I think they deserve a rest. Instead, we'll close out the year with this final link - Pan MacMillan's 'Favorite Christmas Poems':  


          Thank you for joining us for another year of the K.A.C.! It's time for us to head into hibernation and turn over the reindeer reins to the Big Man. We hope you enjoyed our slightly askew look at the crazy side of the season and will join us again next year at this same time. Until then, Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2021

K.A.C. 2021 - T - 02 Days ...

     Welcome to our penultimate edition of the 2021 version of the K.A.C. It's been an exhausting and challenging year for all of us and I hope this silly little blog has put a smile of cheer or frown of disgust on your face for a while (hey, we're not picky here!) - anyway, thanks for coming along on the journey. Now let's upend Santa's sack two more times and see what we find.

     ITEM:  Are you truly stuck for a last-minute gift item for that 'hard to buy for' person? Then take a hint from this Parker Brothers ad from 1962 - NOTHING says Christmas like a vintage OUIJA BOARD! It has answers for ALL the Really Important Questions, like, "Can we take the car?", and "Are flying saucers for real?" I could have really USED that answer back in my youth, instead of all the time I suffered neck strain watching the sky! The one I REALLY want answered is, "Who's Debbie's date for the prom?" WELL, DEBBIE??? And you thought it was only good for speaking to the dead! Click on the photo to enjoy this jawdropper full size!


     ITEM:  Fast forward by fourteen years and behold Christmas, 1976 ... bet THAT wasn't foretold in Ye Olde Ouija Board! You're going to need to feed that kid (not to mention stock up on a BOATLOAD of Hair Spray!), and for that, you're going to need these '60 Recipes From The '70s Worth Trying Today'. Hey, who DOESN'T LOVE Bacon Wrapped Spam Bites or an Oyster Cheese Appetizer Log? No, no, don't thank us ... OR give us the leftovers! 


     ITEM: Staying on the 'pictures say a thousand words' theme we've got going today, The Public Domain Review has something right up our alley you should peruse: A Pictorial History Of Santa Claus, showing him as he originally looked and how much he has changed over time. What's your favorite version? Give them all a glance below:  



      Ahem, as I said, SPEAKING of photos, the New York Times just ran an article all about 'How Sexy Grinch Spiced Up Christmas'. Good luck reading this ... don't let that whoosing sound of Dr. Seuss' coffin spinning in his grave disturb you!  


     There is NO WAY to follow up that last story, so we'll stop there. One more to go as we wrap up the 2021 K.A.C. tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

K.A.C. 2021 - T - 03 Days ...


     What's that, Kimba? You JUST realized it's only Three More Days 'till Christmas and you FORGOT TO GET A TREE? Wipe that flop sweat away, buddy, we've got you covered. There's PLENTY more things to worry about!

     How about this?  Let's play Jeopardy - ANSWER: Supply chain breakdown, labor breakdown and sugar shortages. QUESTION: Why is America running out of candy canes, right before Christmas? The full story appears below - stock up now! 



          Next, while waiting for Christmas Eve to roll around, Santa's got a side gig going. Not only does he see when you're sleeping and know when you're awake, he also Saves Your House From Being Burnt Down Around Your Ears, as a New Jersey family found out. The full tale of Fireman Santa can be found here:  



      Is there anything the Clausmeister CAN'T do? Apparently not (or 'knot', as the case may be). Deliver toys, check. Put out fires, check. What the heck, 'tis the season, want to get married? He can perform your wedding, as well. ANYBODY can go to Vegas and get married by Elvis ... imagine your wedding photos when friends and family see THIS!  


     We've saved the best for last in our final entries of rare Christmas TV for this holiday season. Red Skelton (1913-1997) was a famous comedian and entertainer for many years, who had fame on radio and films, but especially on his long-running television series, which ran for 20 years, from 1951 to 1971. For the younger readers in our audience, the name is probably unfamiliar to you. For those of us from an older generation, however, he was a comedic icon. He was adept at physical comedy and slapstick as required, but he was also a master pantomimist. That was seen to memorable and poignant affect in the Christmas episode featuring his most famous character (and he had an arsenal of them), Freddie The Freeloader, a lovable hobo who was always getting himself into situations. From December 16th, 1961, enjoy Freddie and the Yuletide Doll, featuring Cara Williams as Raggedy Ann (Cara passed away just a few days ago from this writing, on December 9th, at the age of 96). 

     It's a tour de force performance from them both, without a word spoken. It was such a popular piece that it was shown again during the 1962 Christmas episode, which you can see in full in the link below. The skit begins at the 13 minute mark: 


     Red was such a versatile performer, he could do any written material. He could get laughs from skits he wrote, that his writers wrote, or adapting more famous stories. Case in point and our final offering today, was this Christmas episode from his series, which aired on December 20th, 1955, adapting O. Henry's short story 'The Cop and The Anthem', concerning his happy hobo's plan (which continually goes awry) to get himself arrested right before Christmas so he can get off the streets of New York and spend 90 days in a "nice warm jail, with a soft bed and three squares (meals) a day". Enjoy this piece of Holiday History from years past, complete with Pet Milk commercials!


     To see how closely Red came in his version of the tale, below is the original O. Henry story, whose hobo character is named Soapy. Give it a quick read and compare!  


     And with that, we're done for the day. We've only got two more entries to go, so come back tomorrow for more. See you then!

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

K.A.C. 2021 - T - 04 Days ...


               Four days to go! I was worried we were going to get through the entire blog with only ONE Grotty Grotto this year! Fear not - we've got another one, the first 'shambolic' one that I can remember that has been accused of having 'teething issues'! How bad was it? Follow the link to read for yourself - AND watch the video:  


     From a mess with no answers to 10 Christmas Questions, we're opening up The Book Of Why? Why do we kiss under the mistletoe? Why do we have presents under the tree? Why is it ALWAYS WHY WITH YOU? The answers to these and many more questions can be found in the link below:  


      Finally, we'll leave you today with a set of nostalgic and CREEPY images of 'Vintage Christmas Decorations More Terrifying Than Halloween'! If you saw our banner picture on the 19th on our daily Facebook announcement, you have something of an idea about what you're getting in to. The rest, jump on in blindly! I do have to take issue, however, over 'Spooky Jar Elf", since I've had two of these since childhood and they're NOT Spooky! (They told me to tell you that ...)  


     Only three days left!

Monday, December 20, 2021

K.A.C. 2021 - T - 05 Days ...


     Our final five days begins with a followup story of a tale I originally reported on December 9th, 2009, which you can read below. The tale has been expanded considerably, so I'll put up the recent links, as well. 

     It's a famous story of how a Japanese businessman/entrepreneur/restaurant owner convinced an ENTIRE COUNTRY that the traditional American Christmas Meal was ... wait for it ... Kentucky Fried Chicken! The best part? The country BELIEVED it and now, more than ever, Christmas in Japan is not complete without a family 'Christmas Party Barrel' (pictured here is the 2019 edition). Pocket reports: " Every year, millions of people across Japan celebrate Christmas around buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken. Families order “Party Barrels” weeks in advance, which in 2019 were replete with cole slaw, shrimp gratin, triple-berry tiramisu cake, and, of course, fried chicken. Santa-clad Colonel Sanders statues stand at attention outside storefronts, grinning mutely through December as KFC Japan sales multiply tenfold, earning the chain a third of its annual income. The corporate promotion is one of Japan’s longest-standing Christmas traditions."

     Lest you think this is a recent phenomenon, think again: this started back in 1970! It was even covered on PBS back in 1981 in an Enterprise episode entitled, 'The Colonel Comes To Japan', which you can view here:  

     My original write-up in this story from 2009 can be found here:  

     And the two-part story that delves into the entire history of how this came to pass can be found in the two articles below:  



     After getting your 'Christmas Party Barrel' (Mmmmm, shrimp gratin ...), you're going to need somewhere to eat it, right? Why not stop by and see Betty Ann Jones - she LOVES Christmas! Hubby, not so much. This charming (and expensive!) story of how opposites attract is a passive-aggressive holiday tale like no other. Read on!

     Our final story of the day regards an annual Film Favorite this time of year, celebrating its 75th anniversary: Frank Capra's It's A Wonderful Life. A new story reported on by The Express (UK), reveals something I was not aware of until now - find out what it is below. Even George Bailey is surprised, and he LIVED IT! 


     We hope YOU will be surprised by our Final Four offerings - see you tomorrow!

Sunday, December 19, 2021

K.A.C. 2021 - T - 06 Days ...


     I was wondering when we'd be reporting some variation of the story below, as we have most years of running the K.A.C.

     Thinking of jetting off to see the world-famous  Gavlebocken (Christmas Goat) in Gavle, Sweden? Save your money, chum: your dreams, and the Goat, just went up in smoke! Take an acrid look for yourself! 


     Dilemma: The Kids want to see Santa, but you don't want to put them or yourself at risk going to the Mall - what to do? For the second year running, thanks to the pandemic, you can still have that moment without leaving the comfort of your own (lockdowned) home. Enter the Zoom Santa! For families or businesses who want to spice up their holiday meetings, it's a rather ingenious 'build a better mousetrap' idea to get through these never-ending challenging times. CNN has the report: 



     One thing the pandemic HAS done is given us a lot of extra time to indulge in our hobbies. When you're working from home day in and day out, there are only so many ways you can distract yourself from the same old routine, and that's where hobbies come in. The trick, of course, being all things in moderation. Say .... oh, I don't know, maybe this time of year you'd like to make some gingerbread cookies or a little house like you did when you were a kid with Mom .... OR you could go COMPLETELY stir-crazy and throw caution to the wind and devote your Every Waking Moment to All Thing GINGERBREAD! Again, all things in moderation. If YOU are feeling the siren call of the gingerbread in all of its varieties, allow us to play enabler here for a short (and sweet) moment with '20 Adorable Ginger House Ideas':  

     I'm slightly disappointed there's no Gingerbread Outhouse in there - I mean, if you've gone THIS FAR already ... maybe it's just me.


     Enjoy the rest of your weekend - we'll be back tomorrow with # 5!

Saturday, December 18, 2021

K.A.C. 2021 - T - 07 Days ...


     One week to go! Long time readers of the K.A.C. know who comes visiting each year when we hit the one week mark ... Robot Monster! Wait, what? That's not right ... 

      No, we're talking about Hardrock, Coco and Joe! For those of you new to the K.A.C., a bit of explanation is in order, as I originally wrote way back in 2010: " Today (as on every December 18th) we celebrate the anniversary of one of our K.A.C. favorites, 'The Three Little Dwarfs'. Not familiar with it? Read on ...

"On December 18, 1956, WGN-TV's "Garfield Goose and Friends" introduced Chicago area children to Santa Claus' three favorite elves, Hardrock, Coco and Joe. At two-feet-high, Hardrock drove Santa's sleigh while Coco navigated and Joe tagged along for fun. To create the animated short or "song cartoonette", Hill & Range Songs hired Centaur Productions. The company was established in the early 1950s by Wah Ming Chang, a sculptor in Walt Disney's Effects and Model Department who created the model of Pinocchio; and George Pal, a producer and Academy Award nominee. The shorts were produced in black-and-white using stop-motion animation, a cinematic process that brings figures or puppets to life by minutely reposing and photographing them frame-by-frame, resulting as fluid movement on screen."


The above description comes courtesy of Chicago's Museum of Broadcast Communications (which you can subscribe to online to see their holdings, as I have - it's worth it if you're interested in early TV).  A number of our readers grew up in the area or surrounding areas and remember these appearance on their TV of these three lads as the OFFICIAL start of the Christmas season!"

     Time to pay our annual visit to the boys - prepare for a Holiday Earwig in 3 ... 2 ... 1 ... sing along!



     Speaking of Holiday Earwigs, I have got the GRANDDADDY of Holiday Music channels for you to listen to. It's a YouTube channel called Christmas Records and, as of this writing, there are 257 full length vintage Christmas LPs up on it, all lovingly restored for optimal sound. It has been my constant companion since October as I research and write up these entries, and I'm only on album # 160! So if you need background music during the next week while you cook, write cards, wrap presents or just relax, look no further!  



     Lest you think we've gone soft here in the final week and are presenting nothing but HAPPY musical interludes, gaze upon the picture to your right. There is a fine line between charming and chilling, and this next item roars across it at top speed!

     I spend FAR too much time each year researching and looking for the Hidden Holiday oddities and am (usually) happily surprised with what I find. That is NOT the case here - part of it is I am pretty skeeved out with anything to do with puppets or mannequins (sorry, JK!). While following a lead on something else entirely, I caught mention of this nugget: from 1953 and produced by the Boys Club Of Phoenix, The Elf and Mr. Little was a short made for TV about (to quote KS at on IMDB): " ... marionettes in a story 13 minutes long about Mr. Little a grumpy old toy-maker who has lost his Christmas spirit feeling the pressure to make toys during the season. The toy-maker makes a deal with an elf to help him make toys at Christmastime in exchange for letting the elf have anything in the shop that he wants when his work is done. Throughout the season the elf works away while each night a little girl accompanying a group of carolers peers at a doll in the shop window. Once the elf completes his work, he asks Mr. Little for the doll in the window. Curious to know what the elf wanted with the doll, Mr. Little follows him to a church where the elf presents the doll to the little girl. After witnessing the selfless exchange, Mr. Little's heart is changed, and his Christmas spirit is returned. An unusual production, The Elf and Mr. Little was filmed in the Boys Club of Phoenix using a boys choir to sing the songs of the marionette choir. Some releases show it in black-and-white, others with a blue tint."

          So essentially you've got a bit of the Grinch and a bit of Scrooge all mixed together in Mr Little, until he's shamed into being a better puppet by the Elf's charitable act. While Puppet Shaming is never condoned here at the K.A.C., we'll let that pass this time, as it all works our for the best in the end. The hardest part I have with this whole production is NOT with Mr. or Mrs. Little (don't get me started on HER) or even the Elf or the Little Girl; no, it's the CHOIR, man - the angelic voices coming out of those DEAD-EYED, NO EXPRESSION row upon row of Performing Puppets! I (barely) made it to the end and then the whole 13 Minutes Of Terror throws down its final card during the end credits and goes all 'Music Of Erich Zann'-Lovecraftian mode with some poor soul who's completely snapped hearing and seeing them and in his madness is dancing and fancying himself the choir leader, while dressed in rags. What's that, you say? Just a villager enjoying the Christmas Carols? SURRRREEE It Is - tell that to his family. That blue tint is me watching it out of my Frozen With Fear eyes!

     Did I mention I get TRULY skeeved out by puppets? Don't take my word for it - watch it yourself! 


     Six days to go!

Friday, December 17, 2021

K.A.C. 2021 - T - 08 Days ...


     Welcome back - we're going to change gears and go a bit lighter here at the K.A.C., especially after our entries of the last two days.

     First up, let's take a delightful flying drone trip through the Longwood Conservatory to see all their trees and plants gussied up for the big day. This was filmed last year and is a charming, zooming, rising and diving adventure after hours. You're on your own if you want to add the "Pew! Pew! Pew!" sounds! 

     If you'd like to plan a visit and are passing through Pennsylvania, here's their website, as well:  



      Have you ever wondered who has the record for playing Santa the longest number of years each Christmas? "WHAT DO YOU MEAN PLAYING SANTA?" Ummm, why don't you skip this one and go on to the next story ... OK, then, the answer comes out of the UK - give it a look! 



    From Santa to the other end of the spectrum comes a two-parter (so far ...) of what happens when you hire The Grinch to your kid's party and he turns out to be a Method Actor? SERIOUSLY? He's THE GRINCH! WHAT DID YOU THINK WAS GOING TO HAPPEN??? Ahem - may it be a lesson to us all.

    Part 1: 

     Part 2:  

     Believe me, we will be the FIRST to report if/when there's a Part 3 to this story!


     Back tomorrow with more, including Santa's Favorite Helpers!

Thursday, December 16, 2021

K.A.C. 2021 - T - 09 Days ...


     Good morning! Well, maybe not, by the time you get to the end of today's entry. Gamera here sets the mood for the day as we have some TRULY Monsterific Christmas tales to share with you as we move into the single digit countdown days. 

     Our theme today is Creepy TRUE Christmas Tales! A lot of these are hair-raisers for ALL the wrong reasons - let's dive right in, shall we?

     First up, the folks at Buzzfeed just published this year's entries of "19 Christmas Horror Stories That Are So Hilariously Bad, Terrifying, And/Or Unthinkably Heartbreaking ... No Other Way To Put It". With a tagline like THAT, you KNOW you need to read it! 


    Let's change gears here and go for more traditional and historical true ghost stories of people (and Headless Dogs) who make their annual Spectral Haunt this time of year. Check our Ranker's list of "Allegedly True Paranormal Stories Revolving Around Christmas": 


Our final entry today comes from CafeMom, with the title, "5 True Christmas Ghost Stories To Keep You Awake At Night Until Santa Comes": 


      OK, enough of that - here's a few items to bring your heart and blood pressure back down to a normal level, and they both involve FOOD (couldn't fit them into yesterday's entry). First we have the story making the rounds of Kraft paying people $20 if they DON'T make a holiday cheesecake this year. What the ... ? Check out the video to see how YOU can cash in! 


We'll end the day with a rather tragic tale of gig work ... specifically that of a beloved figure we all know and revere. Hey, I get it - times are tough for everyone this year and I wish I wasn't the one who had to share this, but journalistic integrity and all that demands it be brought to light. Turns out our Jolly Old Elf has been shamefully masquerading as another icon once the sleigh's put away for the year. Oh, Claus, HOW COULD YOU? 


     More tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

K.A.C. 2021 - T - 10 Days ...

     Good morning! We're down to the final ten days here, so let's get right to it, shall we?

     First up, would you like to help Santa with some of his crushing mail load at this time of year? Even better, would you like to BE Santa for some young child? Then you need to click below and learn about the United State Post Office's 'Operation Santa':


     Next, it's time for our annual look at Christmas Food Fails! This year we've opened it up to food fails all year round and from multiple years back. Something to make EVERYONE queasy! Take a deep breath and dive on in to any of these links!












    2021: Is this a great time to be alive, or what? NOW, on Netflix, there's actually a show called NAILED IT! which is all about ... yep, FOOD FAILS! Take a look! 

     Interested? Here's the link to this year's Holiday Edition! 


      I'm stuffed! *burp* - back tomorrow, after I find the Tums ...

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

K.A.C. 2021 - T - 11 Days ...


     Welcome back! I hope you're enjoying these 'unique' takes on traditional Christmas cards. Again, see our entry on December 7th to see how you can get yours!

     Speaking of Christmas cards (or flip cards in this case), if you didn't see last week's Saturday Night Live which Billie Eilish hosted, stop what you're doing Right Now and take a look at Lonely Christmas. If THIS doesn't make you think twice about who to invite over, NOTHING will!



     WHOA! Funny and dark as Hell at the same time - like it was MADE for the K.A.C.! Let's try and right that ship and find something a bit more innocent and upbeat for you to view. I know, try this on for size - our next rare Holiday Fable, from 1953, starring Louis Jourdan, called A String of Blue Beads. It starts at 29:10 in the link below. It is paired with A Star Shall Rise, which we've already featured here. It was, as IMDB mentions, an "unsold TV pilot for a proposed anthology series called Screen Writer's Playhouse". It's a heartwarming tale of ... uh, oh ... "
a young man with everything to live for is crushed to learn of the death of his fiancée in a fire on Christmas Eve. For three years he wallows in self-pity until a young girl reminds him of the true meaning of Christmas." Oh, boy ... The story is crushing enough, but the framing narrative of a grieving puppet Jourdan on strings being presented with puppet girls from a puppet Santa's sack has to be seen to be believed! Hey, it's got Margaret Hamilton, too! Remember Aunt Ev's hankies from a while back? Yeah, you're gonna need them again!


          Finally today, I'll spare you the photo (again) from yesterday's FB announcement of the 'Nativity Back Hair' boy ... BUT, since there was so much response to the photo, the bravest of you may want to read the whole story from 'back' in 2016, about the Idaho man who "... finds Art In Back Hair ..." I think I just found something coming 'back' up from breakfast! You know you have to read it!


     'BACK' Tomorrow - there, I'm done!

Monday, December 13, 2021

K.A.C. 2021 - T - 12 Days ...

     Welcome back! Today's entry of the K.A.C. is slightly later than usual, as I had to completely scrap my first entry and start over. Jeff Belanger is giving a talk in two days on 'Creepy Christmas' via Zoom. I had it all written up, how to register, etc., and was just about to hit Publish, when I went back to check the link and saw the event is completely full! If another one pops up, I'll let you know. They're worth attending.

     Well, how can I fill today's column, then? When I'm usually stuck, I turn to my old standby for weird Christmas stories, my favorite tabloid, The Sun (UK). Well, wouldn't you know it, they've got not one, not two, but THREE stories that perfectly fit the bill!


Up first, are you a fan of The Grinch? No, not the type who's, "Yeah, I like it and all ...", no, man, I mean REALLY like it, like you named your dog Max and your kid Cindy Lou Who-level of liking it! Well, buddy, if this is you, pack your bags and hie thee to Ogden, Utah (!), where you can stay IN The Grinch's Cave (Grinch not included). Based on the original set designs from the live 2000 film and co-founded by Dr. Seuss Enterprises and Vacasa, you can stay there overnight for the princely sum of $19.57 (!!!), in honor of the year the book came out. See more pics and a video of the place below:



     Next up is a tale of spooky Christmas things that pop up and promise fun, thrills and Christmas Cheer ... and turn out to be Houses Of Horror and Not At All What Was Promised, and then disappear to surface the following year upon another unsuspecting public ... they're back!  Long-time readers of the K.A.C. know where this is going. Yep, the FIRST of 2021's Santa's Grotty Grottos has appeared out of the mist! Well, in this case, mud. Lots and LOTS of MUD! The SUN (UK) once again comes through for the K.A.C. (heck, at this point we should make them an official co-presenter). Pull up your stocking feet onto the couch as you (drily) read this Cautionary Christmas Carol (with video!) entitled, 'O Glum All Ye Faithful'!



     Our final story involves mystery, specifically the mystery of the wrapped gift on Christmas morning. Want to REALLY amp up the mystery? Want to be as surprised, if not more so, that your recipient? We've got THAT covered, too!

     One of the new Christmas Crazes is to get UNOPENED Christmas gifts and give them as presents. Duh, you say - no, I mean unopened gifts from total strangers that you blindly buy. Sometimes you know what they are, sometimes you only know the audience they're meant for. Confused? All will be explained at the link below ...


      Like the aforementioned gifts, it's time for us to 'cast off' - more tomorrow!

Sunday, December 12, 2021

K.A.C. 2021 - T - 13 Days ...


           "WHERE'S MY CHRISTMAS JUMPER?" I KNEW this would happen: buy a T-Rex a Christmas jumper and now they ALL want one!

     While we sort this fiasco out, why don't you peruse today's offerings:

     ITEM: Hey, I like Christmas decorations and trees as much as the next guy, but sometimes you just have to admit that you MAY have a problem. Exhibit A: the case of Thomas and Susane Jeromin who live in Lower Saxony, Germany. For reasons only known to God and Man (well, God, anyway), they decided to go ALL OUT this year (as they have for the past TEN) and, as the SUN (UK) reports:

"... set the world record for the biggest-ever Christmas display with a whopping 444 trees decorated with 10,000 ornaments." You read that right - in EVERY room (see Exhibit B to the right, their BATHROOM) ... click on the link below for the whole EXPENSIVE story (and virtual tour!) - better them than me:


     ITEM: Well, here's something new. Just when I think I've wrung every possible story from Ebenezer Scrooge and Company, something new pops up! Entitled 'What Scrooge Ate At Christmas Eve: Folk Belief, Folk Medicine, and Foodways in Dickens's "A Christmas Carol"', by Stephen Winick, it explodes one common held belief: what was in the gruel he was eating before Marley's spiritual visit and why it has been wrongly assumed all these years that it was his main meal every night. There's a lot to unpack in this fascinating article from the Library Of Congress. Thanks to Robin for my insider tip on this!


     The final dozen entries begins tomorrow!

Saturday, December 11, 2021

K.A.C. 2021 - T - 14 Days ...


     "Only two weeks to go? But I haven't even STARTED shopping! I've still got the house to clean, and a list of things as long as my arm ... Aggghh, my heart!" 

      Hopefully YOU'RE not as stressed as Mr. N. Feratu here, but if you are, hey, not to worry - we're here to help!

     First things first - this one is especially for parents of young kids, who are most likely crawling the walls with the two-week mark before them, bursting with curiosity and wanting to know what Big Red is up to, are you SURE he's going to make it on Christmas Eve, are the reindeer healthy, etc. Lucky for you, the folks over at Festive Studios have up on their YouTube channel a LIVE, 24-hour SANTA CAM! Turn the tables on the Jolly Old Elf for a change ... you can see HIM when he's sleeping AND know when he's awake!

     It's not just Santa: Mrs. Claus stops in to check on the old boy, plus there's the Workshop Cam, where the elves are up to shenanigans as soon as Santa leaves, there's Reindeer Cam (pictured here) and a lot more! It's up and running now right up until Christmas. Let the hours of obsessed viewing begin! Of course, if YOU wind up running it non-stop, you can always say you're doing it for the children ...


     You know who else LOVE reindeer? T-REXES, that's who - ROWR! (More like 'burp', but I digress ...) - this charmer was the lucky recipient of his very own Christmas Jumper ("SWEATER, Herbie, SWEATER, how many times do we got to do this?") made for him while he resides at the Natural History Museum in London. You can read the charming story (and the MASSIVE amount of material that went into making it) here:

     And there's more from the New York Times, with an additional pic of T getting help with putting the jumper on (those tiny front arms, dont'cha know):

     Supposedly our local T-Rex at Boston's Museum Of Science is all decked out in the Christmas gear of a giant Santa hat and scarf, but he's a bashful one. I haven't found a single corroborative photograph to prove it yet - any local folks have one? If so, send it along and I'll put it up.


     Back tomorrow with lucky # 13!

Friday, December 10, 2021

K.A.C. 2021 - T - 15 Days ...


          Ho, Ho, ho and back we go, to our next early TV tale of Yule Lore. This episode and I go way back: I have been a film collector since childhood, starting out with an old Super 8mm projector, small screen and a few Castle Films. As you can tell from reading my NON-K.A.C. film reviews on this blog, it became a life-long hobby/obsession.

     Not just the watching of films, but the collecting aspect: all of the other forms of physical video data: VHS videotapes (I somehow missed Beta, which mystifies me to this day), Laserdiscs AND CED Video Disks (with needle ... as my friend Mark and I say, "See the movie in HALF the time!", since the damn needle skipped ALL THE TIME, hence why Laserdisc ruled THAT format war!), DVDs and Blu-rays (ESPECIALLY 3-D Blu-rays), LED video projectors to watch it all and (SADLY), NOT One Universal Remote To Bind Them! Hang on, I'm getting back to how this all started.

     That inventory being said and out of my system, STILL my favorite physical medium is 16mm film. I graduated to it a few years after the Super 8mm bug, and have never looked back. I ran our college film program, with 16mm licensed prints and two side by side Kodak Pageant projectors, each reel holding 45 minutes of film to a ninety minute feature. The heady thrill of getting to the time to switch from Projector A to B seamlessly in a room full of crazed Saturday evening Movie Night college students, who are EAGERLY waiting and happy to tell YOU, YOUR FRIENDS AND EVERYONE IN EARSHOT WHAT A RUBE YOU ARE FOR NOT TURNING THE PICTURE/SOUND ON IN TIME, OR WHY HAVEN'T YOU TURNED THE LAMP OFF OF THE FIRST PROJECTOR, WHY AM I SEEING JUST A WHITE SCREEN, I CAN'T SEE THE PICTURE, IT'S TOO LOUD, MY LIFE IS RUUUUUIIIIINNNNEEEEDDDD ... WHY?????? - is a thrill like no other (not that I WOULD KNOW!).

     Ahem ... moving on. I've had and lost three film collections over time, thanks to the Wings Of Fate, and always thrill to see some new title I was unaware of on eBay. Which brings us, in an admittedly long-fashioned way, to today's tale.

    One day on eBay I had bid on a 16mm film blind lot buy. Someone had these, didn't know what they were or wanted them, you bid and you took your chances. My luck runs PRECISELY 50/50 on these lots: sometimes they're a pleasant surprise, sometimes they're absolute dogs. In this particular case, I won the auction, sent the payment and awaited my five films. All were on 1200' reels (such as this). I knew each one was a half-hour show of some sort or some short, as 1200' reels only hold 30 minutes of film.

    The day arrived, I watched them all, and was pleasantly surprised to find they were five episodes of various early TV shows, none of which I'd heard of. One of them in particular was a wondrous Western nativity tale, set in modern times, directed in 1945 by a young Don Siegel, which won the Academy Award in 1946 for Best Short Subject (Two-Reel). Character actor J. Carrol Naish carries the heavy acting duties here, in a tale that, as IMDB describes: 

"Three cowboys riding across the desert with gifts for no particular recipient, see a distant bright light and find it comes from the Star Auto Court sign where the owners and guests work together to help a young pregnant wife and husband."

    The three cowboys bearing gifts is a lovably unapologetic stretch which works in this charming Nativity tale of another kind, Star In The Night:   


       Perhaps those cowboys could bring some additional gifts to the people of London, specifically the Trafalgar Square area, as the delivery of their annual Christmas tree from Norway is NOT getting rave reviews: from 'a national embarrassment' to 'looking half dead' to my personal favorite, "Who upset Norway?" To understand that last one, go to the two articles below to get the back story of the Trafalgar Terror:


     What's the Christmas Lesson here, boys and girls? That's right: DON'T UPSET NORWAY!


      Back with more tomorrow as we begin our final two weeks countdown!