Saturday, December 31, 2011 Happy New Year!

Here's hoping that 2012 is a better and brighter year for us all!

Saturday, December 24, 2011 Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 12, 2011 Beware the Krampus!

From NPR:
Horror For The Holidays

Meet The Anti-Santa
by Peter Crimmins
December 10, 2011 from WHYY

For generations the Christmas season has been infused with sweetness, but
some families in Philadelphia are adding a dash of horror.

There are no Christmas lights up at Janet Finegar's house in the Northern
Liberties neighborhood of Philadelphia. She does not deck her halls with
boughs of holly. Instead, hundreds of rib bones leftover from a neighborhood
barbecue hang on a clothesline strung across her backyard. They're bleaching
in the sun.

"They have been scraped, boiled, scraped again, bleached and are now strung
on strands and hanging out to dry," she says. "They smell. Rib bones, as it
turns out, are incredibly nasty."

She will drape the bones over herself and wear them like a grisly tunic.
It's her Krampus costume.

The Krampus is a character from European Alpine folklore, common in Austria
and Switzerland. The creature stands on two hooves and has horns growing out
of its skull. An extremely long tongue hangs out of its mouth, and it
carries a basket to haul away naughty children.

For hundreds of years, the Krampus and Saint Nicholas have worked a kind of
good cop-bad cop routine. Saint Nick rewards the good children; Krampus
terrorizes the bad.

For Finegar, it's the perfect antidote for Christmas.

"If everything is sweet and beautiful and lovely and the most wonderful time
of the year, some people, like me, start to get a little nauseated, want a
little salt to go with the sugar," she says. "I think there [are] a lot of
people out there who enjoy the idea of having a little salt."

Around the country, there are Krampus parties and club nights in December,
where people dress in leftover Halloween costumes to drink and dance.

Finegar is helping to organize a traditional Krampuslauf: a procession of
people dressed as Krampus, walking through the streets with noisemakers. The
idea for the Krampuslauf in Philadelphia came from Amber Dorko Stopper, a
mother of two.

"Spooky and scary has had a place in Christmas historically - A Christmas
Carol is a ghost story with scary things in it," she says. "I hate to see
everything get watered down because I remember how much fun those things

Krampus parades are rare in the United Sates. Last year, Joseph Ragan
organized one in Portland, Ore., as a reaction to the way Christmas
dominates the winter season.

"Of all the 10,000 holidays that can be celebrated, we just have this one
particular version of this one particular holiday really shoved down our
throats for months at a time - in the most saccharine form," he says.

Consider that Christmas muzak you hear in grocery stores before
Thanksgiving. That really annoys Stopper. She's a fan of horror movies, and
enjoys the folk tales of Krampus stealing children, throwing them into icy
rivers or eating them alive.

"I realized really quickly how that was not popular in this time period. As
a parent of small children that was seen as suspicious behavior almost
immediately," she says. "Everything is so soft-pedaled these days with kids
to the point where you're not showing any kind of conflict to your kids,
much less folklore."

But even Stopper admits there are limits.

"Since both of our children are adopted, we're a little extra sensitive to
talking about being taken away," Stopper says. "But we did tell them that,
'He'll take you to his house, you'll have to eat spicy vegetables and watch
boring adult television - and then he'll bring you home.' "

The horror. The horror.

I'm right there with Ragan and Stopper. As much as I love the holidays, I hate hate hate how it's forced upon us so early. And it just keeps getting worse every year, especially in these economic times*.   This year I started hearing the Christmas muzak pumped into stores before Thanksgiving.

Christmas isn't special if you celebrate it for three straight months. Christmas decorations aren't special if you hang them up in November and leave them up until March. The four seasons of the year are not Spring, Summer, Fall, and Christmas!

The Krampus is pretty cool.  I read about him as a kid, but forgot all about him until he turned up in a Venture Bros. episode a few years back.  I don't know how much success a demonic ant-Santa will have in a country obsessed with fighting a non-existant "War on Christmas", but I wish him the best.

I'm not down with the Leatherface bone costume, though.

*Hey, you want consumers to spend more money?  Give them more money to spend!  Quit cutting back on salary and benefits, quit sending jobs overseas, quit laying off employees by the hundreds to spur short-term stock market increases, quit dancing to the tune of the corporate interests that control us all... oh, wait. 

Friday, December 2, 2011 Santa Claus is Coming to Town

 And he's bringing Martians with him!

Holland Releasing is bringing this holiday "classic", along with a bevy of seasonal shorts and cartoons, back to theaters across the country this Christmas. A list of theaters and screen dates are available at the site.

I've already seen SCvM on the big screen at a Cinematic Titanic event a few years back, but if you haven't yet experienced this "space-blazing" spectacle this is a great opportunity to do so!