October 30th, 2009


Halloween Eve

In A Small Town In Western Upstate New York

Back in the 60s -- the real 60s and not the caricature of the 60s of TV and the movies -- Halloween was a class party of cookies or cupcakes in school, followed by a night of trick-or-treat in the neighborhood. Including whether to go up to one of the scary houses with the little old people that we didn't know because we weren't family and they never came out much. It was almost always a night of compromises. Commercial costumes for kids consisted of a thin plastic face mask whose edges chafed the skin, with an elastic band which broke too easily, and sometimes a cheesy cloth or plastic printed "outfit". We generally did not get those, but were expected to make our own costumes.

Of course, October 31st was likely to end up pouring rain or, more likely, be the first significant snowfall. This meant that costumes had to be redone at the last minute to include heavy coats and/or snow suits, ruining the effect of any costume. And the eye holes on masks were too small to see easily in the dark.

Yeah, it was perfect in a weird can't-we-go-now slash I-don't-want-to-do-this sort of thing.

At ten, we traveled on a Mohawk Airlines BAC-One-Eleven flight back home after visiting our new house in White Plains NY. The stewardesses thought it was fun to have two kids on the flight and allowed up "trick-or-treat" in the air. Halloween was tougher in the city -- eggs, broken lights, smashed pumpkins. Never was the same. And we were older.

Tuesday Evening

On the way to Jim Hine's reading at Schuler's, as I made the left turn light into the shopping center from Alpine Avenue, I saw the lot was FULL. Even well over towards Schuler's. It'd be nice to think that maybe Jim had inspired a huge turnout, but I already knew that theory was full of holes. Coming straight in the ex-Linens And Things storefront had brightly lit colored letters spelling out Halloween City or something like that.

These stores spring up every year. I started noticing them some years ago, whenever there were vacant storefronts in malls, or now vacant box stores in various shopping centers. There was a stream of families going in and coming out with big bags of things. And the TV ads -- Walmart is running a huge series of Halloween ads, as is something called Party City which has sets, costumed dancers and a variation of the Thriller soundtrack.

When Did Halloween Become Such A Big Deal?

Myself, I blame the bad economy. It's something for the kids before winter sets in, and satisfies some of the kid which hasn't been burnt out of adults. But besides the obvious packaged candy and cheap masks, there's a whole industry of costumes and accessories. No doubt in some areas there are high end Halloween stores, but most of this is cheap junk as near as I can tell. Lots of money spent for one day.

We Don't Get Much Traffic Out Here In The Country

I have something of a tradition of bringing cookies or some such snacks to exams, but given the New Rules for flu, the university suggested not putting out shared foods. So I skipped the snacks for Exam 1 and planned on buying some bags of packaged candy for Exam 2 -- the leftovers we've got in a bowl for tomorrow night, if anyone comes.

Mrs. Dr. Phil found some bags of boxes of Dots -- the "Bats" boxes are blood orange flavor, pretty good, but the candies are quite black and turn your mouth and teeth black temporarily. (evil grin)

One Good Thing

Hard rains falling today. Should eliminate any riff-raff who thinks that they can invent a Beggar's Night or Devil's Night for mischief or extra candy tonight. (evil grin)

Dr. Phil