Monster of the Week: Gryla & Other Holiday Horrors

Robert blogs about Grýla, the Grither and other Holiday monsters.

Carrot and Stick: A Genetic Santa Story

Santa or Krampus? Gifts or a stocking full of coal? In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Julie look at negative and positive reinforcement and a new study that looks at the genetics behind each.

The Christmas War on Krampus

Since the Nazis were all about casting out Christianity and embracing the old gods, you'd think that German-speaking socialists of the 1930s would be cool with nasty old Krampus. But not so, according to a Dec. 23, 1934 New York Times article headlined "Krampus Disliked in Fascist Austria." Now remember, Nazi Germany didn't roll up Austria till 1938. Austrofascism was the rule of the day and, unlike the Nazis, they were heavily Catholic. According to the NYT article, the Austrian government outlawed Krampus entirely -- who, according to the article, had virtually usurped the role of prime gift giver from Santa at the time. It was the demon, not the old man, who mad the rounds with sweets and gifts.

The Science of Gremlins and Mogwai

The Science of Gremlins and Mogwai: Mogwai and Gremlins might seem the most unrealistic monsters of the 1980s, but nothing could be further from the truth. Join Robert and Julie as they dissect Gremlin/Mogwai biology and show you these creatures compare to the rest of the animal kingdom. Be sure to check out "How Mogwai and Gremlins Work" for all the info discussed in this episode.

Christmas Mixes To Combat Decision Fatigue

What holiday coffee should I order? What gifts should I buy? What holiday treats should I bake? All those little choices add up, depleting your ego and leaving you incapable of tackling bigger problems in your life. It's called Decision fatigue and it sucks you dry. So just as I advised you on Halloween mixes to combat decision fatigue, I thought I'd dish out some Christmas choices as well.

Did Ebenezer Scrooge take a mountain of DMT?

Christmas is magic. Christmas is transformative. And since we're dropping two episodes on the psychedelics, science and shamanism the week of Dec. 25, I keep wondering if everyone's favorite holiday curmudgeon didn't smoke DMT on that fateful Christmas Eve. Because what happens in "A Christmas Carol?" Why, a self-centered old miser barricades himself in an empty house and experiences a ghostly visitation from a dead friend. Next, three outlandish spirit entities arrive and take him on a mind-rending journey through time and space. At the end of that journey, Scrooge re-engages the world with a profoundly increased sense of openness -- which brings us to DMT.

Robert and Julie's Amazing Stuff to Blow Your Mind Christmas

There's absolutely no denying that it's Christmas. Heck, it's apparently been Christmas for months here in Atlanta, where the MARTA train service pipes in horrific holiday music as if a high enough dosage will inoculate us against unknown ailments while we wait for the train. Meanwhile, there's extra snack food in the HSW break room, holiday celebrations abound and SOMETHING WEARING JINGLE BELLS moves around in the walls.

The Santa Claus Machine

The Santa Claus Machine: How does Santa Claus make so many gifts? Clearly his elves have harnessed the power of nanomanufacturing. But what does this mean for the planet? In this episode, Robert and Julie consider the possibilities of limitless custom manufacturing.

Owl Vomit: Best Holiday Stocking Stuffer Ever?

If two things in this life are certain, it's that owls love to puke up lumps of undigested prey and that children of all ages love to dissect the resulting pellet of vomit. Yep, there's your recipe for the greatest stocking stuffer ever. Each pellet contains a great deal of information about the bird's recent meal and overall diet. In fact, you'll often find entire rodent or bird skeletons inside.

Random Snowflakes: Lies, Solar Power, Slashers and Distractions

Snowflakes are elegant examples of fleeting beauty, each a unique work on the verge of disappearance. But you already knew that, so let's do this white Christmas right and discuss snowflake-related Flash-based eye candy, fractals, serial killers, comic books, fantasy epics, solar cells, satellites, holiday cards and my parent's house. So grab a shovel (don't actually grab a shovel) and venture into this post for a handful of snowflake-related links, tidbits, news articles and distractions.