Tuesday, November 01, 2005


Oh, how I wish I had taken my relatively new and unused camera with me on a walk I took late yesterday afternoon, right before sunset on Halloween. One of these days I will even learn how to reliably transfer photos from said camera to my computer, and put them on this blog. (I know, I know, it's not that difficult, but trust me when I say that I'm very technically challenged.) Till then I'll have to make do with word pictures.

It was unusually warm for Halloween--always a wonderful thing, as I recall from my childhood when Halloween was pretty much my favorite holiday. Nothing seemed worse back then than having to wear a heavy coat over a carefully-planned costume--nothing, that is, other than rain. Rain necessitated going over to my grandmother's apartment building instead, to trick or treat with all the residents there who hadn't even bought candy for the occasion and who might end up giving you a mealy old apple--ugh!

In the Fifties, Halloween meant being out in the dark with all the other spookily-dressed children and no adults in sight, the possibility of getting huge candy bars rather than today's tiny ones, and even sometimes a homemade treat. We went out for hours, till 9 PM or even later, and visited the houses of strangers as well as friends, with little or no fear.

Well, those days are gone, like many things. But what remains is the trick-or-treating children, and last night brought its full complement to my door, as well as the wonderful fact that finally, after decades of trying, I managed to buy the correct amount of candy. Only seven bite-sized pieces were left at the end of the festivities.

There were dogs dressed as pumpkins, and cute and polite kids--even the teenagers. Every now and then one of the children would exclaim that my selection of candy contained "OOO, my favorite! Wow!" This year's favorite favorite seemed to be Skittles, a candy I detest; but there's no accounting for taste, especially that of children.

But back to that neighborhood walk at dusk. The sense of anticipation was in the air, kids still playing in the streets but talking excitedly about the upcoming night, parents out on their porches and front lawns, putting the finishing touches on decorations. The decorations are the one thing about Halloween that's much better that I remember from when I was young.

Some seen on that walk, and not at all atypical: a lineup of smallish pumpkins placed in two window boxes, nestled in straw and colorful fallen leaves; a harvest figure featuring a stuffed moosehead (not real) and dressed in lumberjack clothes, lounging on a deck chair with an empty beer bottle next to it; a huge sprawling old-fashioned porch entirely draped in fake cobwebs and laden with pumpkins and lights, with a recording of spooky music and maniacal laughter playing in the background.

I managed to eat a bit of candy myself, and am suffering from a sugar hangover today. Hope you all enjoyed your Halloween, too, despite the possibility of similar indiscretions.


At 2:53 PM, November 01, 2005, Blogger Michael Walton said...

Q and A: Brick throwing
I know a question that many of you have is, "When is it proper to throw a brick at someone?" Hopefully this list will help:

It is acceptable to throw bricks (soaked in lighter fluid and set on fire) at these types of people:

People who have backpacks with wheels on them.
People who ask you what time it is.
People who drive too slow. (These people also usually have at least 2 political bumper stickers from the 80's)
People who try to force thier opinions on you. (such as telling you how old they are.)
People who make a point to act like someone that they arne't. (Actors are an exception to the rule, unless they advertise a new type of lawn fertilizer.)
People who breathe indoors.
People with mullets, skullets (A balding man with a mullet.), or guys with ponytails.

At 4:02 PM, November 01, 2005, Blogger Pancho said...

Things have indeed changed in the Halloween world since my [our] childhoods. Only a few actual neighborhood kids come to our door...for some years now the main trick or treaters are the more disadvantaged kids who load up in their families pickup trucks and cruise the more affluent neighborhoods.

I used to be somewhat disturbed by this but now enjoy seeing them and I have to say that in the majority they are well behaved, say "thank you" and seem genuinely appreciative for the opportunity to have fun and score some goodies.

At 4:04 PM, November 01, 2005, Blogger SC&A said...

First thing first- if there were only 7 pieces of candy left, you did NOT buy the correct amount.

I would also like to add that when I was trick or treating, I had to come home when the batteries in the flashlight gave out. My dad never bought Eveready's- nope. We used Lucky Mothers Star Horse batteries from some mysterious Asian country that gave out 90 minutes after dark.

I'm still dealing with the trauma, because of the battery issue and the reality that my aunts always gave us leftovers wrapped in aluminum foil. Week old meatloaf as a Halloween treat? I still won't talk to my mothers sisters.

Anyway, give back the camera- the word images are just fine.

You really need to consider podcasting.

Garrison Keilor, look out!

At 5:11 PM, November 01, 2005, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

That's quite a descriptive story.

Heh, and with "word pictures".

Quite a bit of nostalgia. Lends it a grave and "ancient" atmosphere, that of the post that is.

Along with shadowy, cheerful, and mysterious characters resounding under that gloom and doom music. It makes quite a description.

At 5:19 PM, November 01, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want to tell you how lucky you are that kids still come to your door.

Here in Portland, OR (well a suburb) no one comes by. And they haven’t for years. Every year (for the last 6 I lived here) I have dutifully gotten my bag of candy and turned on my light, and waited. If I was lucky 2-3 small groups of Mexican kids showed up. But at the end of the night I was left with a huge bowl of candy and sense that something very important to my childhood had died for this generation.

I mean I live on 2nd street. I am right downtown (of the suburb, which used to be a town in its own right). I am 4 blocks (5 minute walk) away from Main St. If you are going to door-to-door trick-or-treat this is where you should go. At least you would have come here in the 50s or 80s (my time).

Finally this year they opened a Starbucks downtown (of the suburb). Since no one was going to show up anyhow, I left the bowl on my doorstep with a note and walked to the Starbucks. Apparently, this is where trick-or-treating occurs now. The downtown was filled with kids going from business to business. Enjoying their safe™ Halloween experience.

I walked back to my house looking at the dark empty streets. Several houses had the lights on and from the windows I could see people waiting with bowls. In fact, one guy tried to lure me across the street. Begging me to come over with a friendly “Trick-or-treat.”

I wonder how many people in town are like I was. They have no idea where the trick-or-treaters are. Sit there in their houses waiting for revelers that never come and feel like something important has died.

And, in many ways it has died. We aren’t bound together in a community of neighbors anymore. But, as they go from business to business, at least it isn’t forgotten.

At 5:53 PM, November 01, 2005, Blogger roman said...

Hey, anonymous 5:19,
My God that was a most depressing
Halloween story I've ever heard.
Thanks...I think.

At 7:37 PM, November 01, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a delightful sharing of present day memories being made. How lucky for the kids in your neighborhood that they, too, will have some good old days to look back on. Gosh darn, but trick or treating was fun for those of us who grew up during the fifties. There was only pretend stuff to be scared of and we roamed the neighborhood until the grownups starting turning the porchlights off.

At 9:45 PM, November 01, 2005, Blogger Harry Mallory said...

I find that the poster on the telephone poll identifying the neighborhood pedophile tends to ruin the the holiday sprit as well.

At 8:08 AM, November 02, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The continuing march of technology has made individual people more powerful - and dangerous - than ever before. This fact is reflected in our culture, in many ways... not the least of which is that people are unwilling to let their children run free in their own neighborhoods, lest they stray into the domain of some individual who will do them harm.

Now only public places that are carefully policed, inspected, and audited, are considered relatively safe.

At 8:35 AM, November 02, 2005, Blogger SteveR said...

Hello Neo!

As to transferring photos from camera to the computer - it's fast and easy if you don't do it the way the camera manufacturers tell you (via the special wire that goes from camera to computer.)

Here's what to do:

1. your camera uses some sort of memory "card" or "stick" to hold the digital images, which are just ordinary "j-peg" (.jpg) image files - just like the ones that grace any website.

2. Figure out what kind of card or stick you have - it may be Compact Flash ("CF") "SD", or one of several other kinds. It's in your camera manual, and often says on the card.

3. Go to BestBuy, CompUSA, or Circuit City,etc, and ask for a "Card Reader" that will accept your card. I recently bought one for my daughter for 15 bucks that reads *nine* different kinds of cards!

4. Back at home, plug the card reader into a USB port (small, rectangular connection point) on you PC or Mac - if you have a PC that you bought in this century (or any Mac), it should automatically recognize the card - it sees it as just another drive - like your "C:" drive, floppy, CD-ROM, etc. - you'll see it show up in your file manager program (Windows Explorer for PCs - I don't know what the Mac equivalent is called.)

5. Insert the card into the reader - on a PC, in a few moments you'll get a window that pops up with a bunch of choices - one of which is something like "view the files" - choose that one.

6. There are your photos! (you may have to dive down through one or two levels of folders). Just copy the files from your card onto your hard drive or burn them to a CD-ROM or DVD.

I just leave my card reader permanently plugged into my PC, so if you do that, there are only 2 simple steps after the first time.

Best regards,

At 8:48 AM, November 02, 2005, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Good thing my laptop already has a smart drive reader in it.

Eventually we'll have to come up with a way to shanghai the computers into doing all this work for us.

At 8:50 AM, November 02, 2005, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

If the streets are more dangerous, you'd think people would be arming their kids with wisdom, weapons, and steel. In that order.

But they aren't... so all they are doing is isolating their children from the real world, a world that they don't seem to like nor know how to deal with.

At 12:09 PM, November 02, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

They aren't arming their children for the simple fact that children can't handle all the knowledge and weapons adults can. Children are not "little adults." They are physically and mentally weaker and clumsier, more likely to turn any of their weapons against innocents than attackers, and most likely to simply have whatever weapons they wield taken from them by some adult who can outthink and outdraw them.

At 3:14 PM, November 02, 2005, Blogger junebee said...

Perhaps the near-extinct custom of trick or treat will be revived after all.

At 3:53 PM, November 02, 2005, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

That's not an excuse for why the parents can't upgrade their self-protection and give a role model for the kids...

They're not arming the kids, they're not arming themselves, just who do you think they are arming... politicians?

They are physically and mentally weaker and clumsier

Ya, people who don't exercise their maturity or martial talents, tend to get 'physically and mentally weak'

You don't understand discipline and the power gap. Children will learn violence and how to be irresponsible regardless of whether you think this that or the other will happen.

Children are only children because society treats them as such. Ages 12 to 18 are not responsible for much of anything, least of all their own protection.

It's a cultural issue. And most of it is motivated by distrust, lack of will, and the incorrect idea that making children mature earlier somehow is a negative thing. Much of anonymous's arguments are based upon that incorrect world view.

At 10:05 AM, November 03, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Advocating paganism, im not surprised!

Opinionated Voice

At 8:32 AM, November 08, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey anonymous from portland. Don't worry. We don't even have Helloween here. Every year I see Halloween images and people talking about it everywhere on the internet. I would love to see what it is like, just once. ;-)

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