Thursday Dec 28, 2006

Christmas Kitsch

I somehow missed it when major media outlets including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today started covering the story of Alek Komarnitsky's Christmas lights in 2004. I did, however, become aware of the story recently due to a follow-up story on Slashdot.

Why does anyone care about Mr. Komarnitsky and his Christmas lights? Read his own account for the full story. In short, he got international media exposure in 2004 for his home's Christmas lights web site. The site allowed visitors to turn the lights on or off and see the results live on a webcam--or so everyone thought. Soon he received even more exposure when it was revealed that the site was a hoax, using a collection of static images to show people the expected lighting changes (which were not actually happening at the house). And now he is gaining a third round of exposure with a revamped setup which has since 2005 provided genuine working versions of the web-based controls (as verified by the Rocky Mountain News).

So what could I possibly have to add to this established story? A little first-person perspective, for one thing. Mr. Komarnitsky, his lights, and I all happen to reside just northwest of Denver. So the other night my wife and I went on a field trip to do a little verification of our own. And with the help of some relatives, we got this screenshot of Peggy sneaking up to join the famous decorations on Mr. Komarnitsky's webcam:


(She's the dark splotch between Homer and Elmo.)

So assuming that Alek has not assembled a prescient set of new static images, we'll join the folks at the Rocky Mountain News in validating the current incarnation of Komarnitsky's Christmas Lights Webcam as Genuine Kitsch™.

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