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It's still looking a lot like Christmas

It sounds like a strange hallucination, which is probably why it's called "Christmas in Acidland." Cinema Arts Centre fans get to spend 140 minutes inside this time-tripping, head-spinning collage of media detritus -- collected snippets of vintage holiday festivity from the likes of "Abbott & Costello," "Ozzie & Harriet," "Howdy Doody," "The Beverly Hillbillies," Liberace, Bob Hope and other iconic names.

Cinema Arts Centre co-director Dylan Skolnick particularly likes the program's most legendary odd couple -- "David Bowie singing with Bing Crosby," he says, from the latter's final family Christmas TV special, in 1977. The greatest-generation crooner duets on "The Little Drummer Boy" with gender-bender Bowie. "It's too odd for words," Skolnick says, "but also fun to hear, musically."

A WILD MASHUP Wednesday's CAC Theater of the Wild screening continues like that -- a merry mashup of '50s-'60s Christmas-themed ads (Ernie Kovacs), public-service spots (Rosemary Clooney), musical numbers (Louis Armstrong with Danny Kaye), comedy routines (young George Carlin) and clips from early TV's variety specials and seasonal sitcom episodes.

"People are going to stumble out of here" after that festive flurry, Skolnick says, "but in a good way. Worn out but happy."

"Christmas in Acidland" was "curated" by Johnny Legend, described by Skolnick as a West Coast "rockabilly musician, movie producer, wrestling promoter and all-around wild guy" whose previous eruptions include the CAC-presented "Insane Trailer Show."

RARE CLIPS "These are clips you would otherwise never get your hands on," says Skolnick, who admits you could spend hours searching online for such Christmas craziness. "Here, we've done all the work for you."

Good luck otherwise finding the Sputnik-era song "Outer Space Santa" from the button-down showcase "The Lawrence Welk Show." Also rare is the bizarre "Jack Benny Program" episode in which the deadpan pennypincher discovers ventriloquist Edgar Bergen's dummies Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd are actually living beings!

It's like stumbling on archaeological relics from a bygone era. Back then, TV nearly always tended to play things straight, without mischief or irony, "and every now and then, things just got crazy," Skolnick says. "Now, when things get weird, it's usually because people set out to make them weird."

So savor the inadvertent delirium of "Christmas in Acidland" Wednesday, while you can.

Cinema Arts Centre also celebrates the season this week with Santa's Cool Holiday Film Festival, Thursday at noon. The main attraction is the B-minus-movie perennial "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians," but it's surrounded by a program of holiday short subjects and cartoons to delight family members of all ages.WHAT "Christmas in Acidland"

WHEN|WHERE Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., Cinema Arts Centre, 423 Park Ave., Huntington

TICKETS $9 (members); $13 (nonmembers)

INFO 631-423-3456, cinemaartscentre.org

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