Image: Bloody Santa
Kathy Willens  /  AP
A New York couple’s holiday display includes a 5-foot-tall Santa holding a bloody doll’s head. They say it’s a fun way to comment on the commercialization of Christmas, but some neighbors weren't catching their holiday spirit.
By Brian Tracey Business Editor
msnbc.com
updated 12/29/2005 6:09:15 PM ET 2005-12-29T23:09:15
COMMENTARY

Last week you may recall we marveled at a California mall's "Hunky Santa" promotion that presumably added some sex appeal to the holiday season. This week we turn our attention to a more macabre interpretation of St. Nick that had the tabloids dancing with glee: "Slasher Santa," a Manhattan family's gory portrayal of the jolly old elf. And after sending the town into a tizzy, it went up for auction on Christmas Day.

Perhaps aimed a holiday shopper really desperate to find that last-minute gift — or maybe someone who wants to send their serial fruitcake-giver a not-so-subtle message — Joel Krupnik and Mildred Castellanos have an answer: Their red-suited Santa figure, holding a bloody knife in one hand and a severed doll's head in the other.

Early in the week bidding had already reached $200 and "might go higher, maybe even to $500," the New York Post quoted Krupnik as saying.

Lest anyone be offended — and (surprise!) some people were — Krupnik had explained earlier that his killer Kris Kringle was intended as a protest against the commercialization of Christmas.

The auction proceeds are to go to the highest bidder's favorite charity, according to a sign next to the display, which also included a number of other Barbie doll heads.

We'd like to suggest the money go to a group that counsels children traumatized by violent images in the media.

Not-so-bad ideas

  • In our increasingly wired world, some may think it is getting hard to tell where  reality ends and the virtual world begins. Now car maker Nissan wants to confuse us even more with its Urge concept vehicle, which debuts at next month's Detroit auto show.

You may be guessing the futuristic-looking car comes with a night vision system or perhaps even magnetic levitation to avoid those pesky potholes, but the Urge takes a new tack on technology: It comes equipped with Microsoft Xbox game console installed in the driver's side seat.

(Full disclaimer: MSNBC is a Microsoft-NBC joint venture.)

NISSAN URGE CONCEPT CAR
Nissan
Nissan's Urge concept car comes equipped with its own Xbox gaming system, but it's unlikely that if you drive off the road and hit a tree in the real world, you can press the "reset" button and make it all go away.
Now before the highway-safety types go into panic mode, it's important to point out the Urge's game system is designed to operate only when the car is parked. Phew.

Equipped with a special edition of Xbox game Project Gotham Racing 3, gamers/drivers can use the car's actual steering wheel and pedals for game play, adding a new level of realism to the fantasy we all lived out in our parents' garages when we were 12 years old.

Nissan says the Urge is designed to sell for about $20,000, an affordable price point for members of video-game obsessed Generation Y. But maybe if they all stopped spending money on the latest versions of Grand Theft Auto and Madden football they could afford a real sports car.

  • More than a few of us have greeted a bank or brokerage statement's arrival in the mail with a "What the?!..." So imagine the reaction of more than 100 people in France when they got a bill from their pension fund that asked them each to pay more than $2 billion in dues.

"I had to sit down when I saw the sum," recipient Christine Vallee, a bar manager in the Loire Valley town of Tours, said this week of her statement asking for the prodigious payment by Jan. 12.

Alain Lavie, a regional director for pension fund Organic, said a computer glitch was behind the mistaken mailings to 113 people, adding that their accounts would not be affected.

The sticker shock prompted Vallee to call a lawyer.

"I wasn't laughing when I read the last paragraph: 'We take this opportunity to offer you our best wishes for the new year,'" she said of her statement seeking $2.5 billion.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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