Spider Season

The spiders of Stonington— industrious creatures that they are—have been busy these days. Every morning the grass spiders have left dozens of their distinctive funnel webs at various locations on the ground and between the flowers of our flower beds. And other spiders, not to be outdone, have left more traditional radial webs on the eaves and railings, as well as the occasional plant.

The spider activity seems to increase as the temperatures cool, and their handiwork is even more noticeable on dewy mornings. Part of my daily activity involves knocking webs off the flowers, which otherwise would look totally mummified and covered in dried leaves and other debris in a few days. And walking just about anywhere poses a risk of stumbling into stray spiderwebbed filaments.

In fact, if you wanted to adopt a scary natural Halloween look, you’d just let the spiders spin their webs undisturbed. By the time Halloween rolled around you’d have a creepy, cobwebbed house and grounds suitable for a slasher flick.

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween to all the ghosts, ghouls, and goblins out there!

Tonight is trick or treat night in Columbus, too.  That means we’ll need to lay in a sufficient supply of Halloween candy to distribute to any kids who might come knocking, because you obviously don’t want to get caught short.  Then we’ll eat most of the candy ourselves, and after we reach an appropriate level of disgust at our consumption we’ll take the rest of it into the office and leave it next to the coffee station for everyone to gorge on.

Loosen the belts, everyone!  The two-month holiday candy, pie, and all things sweet binge period is about to begin!

Bathroom Humor

When I went to the grocery store yesterday, I walked down an aisle and saw, to my dismay, that Halloween stuff was on sale already — even though it’s just the beginning of September.  But I was really stopped in my tracks when I saw this product for sale, right there next to the bags of candy and trick or treat decorations.

It’s a “Jokin’ on the John” motion-activated toilet seat cover.  Put this on, and when the lid to the commode is lifted, you get treated to one of several jokes delivered by this crazy-eyed cackling witch.  It’s one of a number of “Jokin’ in the John” products that can help you celebrate Halloween.  Others include “Flush ‘n Stein,” a motion activated Frankenstein figure holding a plunger who is supposed to be put on top of the toilet and then tells jokes and sings a song, as well as a wisecracking ghost armed with a plunger and a mummy-type figure whose wrapping is toilet paper.

An entire “Jokin’ in the John” line of products, offered by Hallmark, of all places?  Apparently the bathroom, one of the last bastions of peace and quiet and normalcy in an overdecorated holiday world, is viewed as the new frontier for holiday-themed “humor” products.  It’s there, ready to be invaded by cackling witches and other intrusive figures whose handful of allegedly funny phrases would get old pretty darned fast.  And speaking as a representative of the older generation that now has to make more nocturnal visits to the bathroom than they used to, I can’t imagine wanting to have any talking, motion-activated items in there to startle me when I stumble in at 3 a.m.

It’s bad enough that Halloween now gets celebrated for about two full months — can’t we leave the bathroom out of it?

 

Trick Or Treating In The ’60s

We’re getting ready for Beggars’ Night in Columbus, but that’s just part of what has become an increasingly big, and prolonged, celebration of Halloween in America.

In German Village, we’ve already had an adult trick or treat night that gave “grown-ups” a chance to don costumes, act like kids, and go to designated locations where they could have special drinks and eat Halloween food.  If you turn on your TV, you’ll see lots of commercials about preparing special Halloween-themed foods, decorating your house with spiders, fake cobwebs, and other scary stuff, and making or buying elaborate get-ups for your kids.  It all reflects the reality that, every year, Americans spend more and more on Halloween.   

f22c4ef1e347c837bc8f82d4dbf0581aIt was . . . different during the ’60s.  Halloween was almost exclusively a kid’s holiday in those days; I don’t remember adults being very involved or all that interested in participating themselves.   Most of us kids came up with our own costume ideas and made them ourselves, because there weren’t a lot of other options — you could buy a cheap costume from the local store, but it was impossible to see or even breathe in the hard plastic mask with a slit for the mouth and little holes for the eyes that was always of the package, and the flimsy bodysuit part of the costume was ripped to shreds almost immediately unless you stood perfectly still, like the unfortunate kids in the photo above.  After one year where I, too, went as Batman and wandered around with a sweating face, unable to see or make myself heard clearly, I decided that the homemade costume route was definitely the way to go.

I don’t remember much about the costumes I made, except that they were pretty simple.  One year UJ, Cath and I went as three of the four Monkees — I think I was Mickey Dolenz, my favorite Monkee — but our costumes didn’t matter much because it was unseasonably cold for trick or treating that year and Mom made us bundle up to the point you couldn’t see our Monkee outfits, anyway.  One year I was a pirate, one year I donned a jersey and went as a generic “football player,” and another year — I’m embarrassed to admit — I went as a “bum,” putting on some beat-up clothing, a battered hat, and smearing some of Mom’s mascara on my chin to give the appearance of unshaven beard stubble.  The hobo outfit was common in that pre-PC era and was an easy costume to make and blessedly mask-free, but I’m guessing that nobody goes trick or treating as a “bum” these days.

That’s one of the many ways in which Halloween has changed since I was a kid.  One thing that hasn’t changed:  kids still want chocolate to put into their trick or treat sack.  No apples or popcorn balls, please!

Hand Signal

I was walking down Parsons Avenue this morning, heading toward the Ace Hardware store, when I noticed this sign. It is a memorable one, with a seriously creepy element to it, too.  No one wants to look at a disembodied hand, really — but It harkens back to the ’60s, when many  signs featured folk art elements that sought to make the business memorable.  In those days it wasn’t unusual to see fiberglass cowboys, spinning globes, and neon martini glasses as you drove down Main Street.

Of course, the sign reminded me of Thing from The Addams Family.  As I took the picture I half expected Lurch to show up and intone, in that impossibly deep bass voice:  “You rang?”

Guys And Ghouls

IMG_3424Based upon the decorations in my neighborhood CVS, you’d think that Halloween is right around the corner.  Of course, it’s a full four weeks away.  Four weeks!

I’ve gotten used to Christmas stuff being rolled out ridiculously far in advance of the actual holiday, but I didn’t think Halloween had become a month-long process, too.  Apparently I was wrong.  Sigh.

A Rainy Beggars’ Night

IMG_5274It’s a windy, rainy Beggars’ Night tonight — which makes it very difficult to keep our jack o’ lanterns lit.  Although the weather isn’t ideal, we’ve had a decent number of trick or treaters this year — but out of an abundance of caution and a fear that we’re going to be stuck with gobs of leftover candy, we’ve also moved to the “take a handful” approach earlier than normal this year.

Happy Halloween!

IMG_1564Happy Halloween to all of our Webner House readers!  And what better way to start our scariest holiday than with Edgar Allan Poe and the classic first verse of The Raven:

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“ ’Tis some visiter,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
Only this and nothing more.”

Quoth the raven:  “Nevermore!”

A Mean-Spirited Busybody Who Desperately Needs To Learn The True Meaning Of The “Trick” In “Trick Or Treat”

Today NBC’s Today show reported on the Beggars’ Night plans of a Fargo, North Dakota woman who sounds like a hopeless jerk.  Rather than handing out candy to every trick-or-treater, this officious busybody will judge whether the kids showing up at her door are “moderately obese.”  If she concludes that they are, she’ll decline to give them candy and instead will give them a note that reads:

“Happy Halloween and Happy Holidays Neighbor!

“You’re probably wondering why your child has this note; have you ever heard the saying, ‘It takes a village to raise a child’?  I am disappointed in ‘the village’ of Fargo Moorhead, West Fargo.

“You [sic] child is, in my opinion, moderately obese and should not be consuming sugar and sweets to the extent of some children this Halloween season.

“My hope is that you will step up as a parent and ration candy this Halloween and not allow your child to continue these unhealthy eating habits

Thank you”

This sounds like a fake story, but there are so many judgmental tools in the world it is completely plausible that it is, in fact, the unfortunate truth.  It’s hard to imagine what kind of supercilious dolt would tell a costumed child that they are too fat to get candy, but maybe that’s just the logical end of our increasingly patronizing, nanny-state approach to parenting and nutrition.  Setting aside the misspelling, poor grammar, and bad punctuation, which reveal the author of the note to be a poorly educated pretender, what kind of paragon of physical and ethical perfection does this woman think she is?  Can you imagine living next to such a person?

There’s only one response to this kind of behavior — and it’s why the “trick” is in “trick or treat.”  If I were a kid who got this kind of a note, it would be time to break out the soap, the toilet paper, and maybe the eggs, too.  And if I were the parent of a kid who got such a note, I might “step up” to toss a roll of toilet paper myself.

The Halloween Balloon

IMG_5114Every year, Halloween seems to get bigger and bigger.  What used to be a holiday for little trick or treaters and some juvenile delinquents back in the ’60s has become a huge retail money-maker, with billions of dollars being spent each year on costumes, candy, and decorations.

On Saturday Kish and I were down in German Village with our Bahamian buddies, and there were costumed people everywhere you looked, even though Halloween and Beggars Night don’t officially arrive in Columbus until October 31.  Throngs of zombies, superheros, and cultural figures lurched from bar to bar in search of a good time.  Halloween has become a week-long excuse to party, dress up, and act out.

That’s all fine with me, so long as the little kids get their chance to go door-to-door for candy, and I can carve a few jack-o-lanterns to greet them on their way to our door.  When you think about it, Halloween is one of the few remaining times where parents let their kids out of the house to roam freely and ask complete strangers for food.  It’s good innocent fun, and I expect most adults remember it as such.  No wonder so many grown-ups like to dress up and relieve a little of that childhood Halloween magic!

What To Do With That Leftover Halloween Candy?

We didn’t have many trick-or-treaters this year.  It’s cold and rainy here in New Albany, and the crappy weather caused the Beggars’ Night kids to keep their neighborhood prowling to a minimum.

As a result, it’s become obvious that we are grossly overstocked with candy.  You almost wish that a bunch of 16-year-olds who aren’t wearing Halloween costumes would come by, so we could just dump the bowl of leftover candy into their pillow sacks.  The alternative — to keep the candy around the house — just means that it will be consumed by 50-year-olds with minimal metabolisms.  If we keep all of this candy around and eat it ourselves, we’ll soon find ourselves in the Chris Christie category.

Fortunately, there is a solution.  I work in a white-collar office environment.  As anyone who works in an office knows, if you put candy out by the coffee station, it will be gone in a nanosecond.  In fact, I’m convinced that a viable solution to the nuclear waste disposal problem is to cover the radioactive debris in chocolate and put it next to the Bunn coffee brewer at our firm.  That’s where this candy will be headed tomorrow — if Kish and I can avoid the temptation until then.

Pumpkin Fail At Webner House

I smelled the reek of failure all day today.  Because the weather has been so foul, we utterly failed to carve our pumpkins into jack o’ lanterns and then convert the front entrance to our home into the traditional Webner House Beggars’ Night pumpkin walk.

When I walked out of our downtown Columbus offices today for lunch meeting, however, my spirits were lifted when I saw a pickup truck filled with pumpkins parked in the lot next door.  At least the driver of that truck, I thought, is properly keeping the pumpkin spirit alive — even if we at Webner House have failed abysmally.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Webner House Pumpkin Path, Halloween 2011

We had our traditional Halloween Jack ‘o Lantern entryway this year.  It features 10 carved pumpkins, including tributes to Braxton Miller and Jared Sullinger and attempts to carve scary, silly, goofy, and happy pumpkin faces.  It think it’s a pretty good crop.

Thanks to our neighbors, the Taylors, for their excellent help with the pumpkin carving this year!

Happy Halloween!

As I’ve mentioned, I prefer creepy — and what could be creepier than suddenly coming upon a detached, eyeless, old-fashioned doll’s head in a darkened room?

At first you are merely startled by the disembodied visage, but then there’s something oddly riveting about it.  You look at it, and wonder how you would react if eyeballs sudden appeared in those empty sockets and snapped open, fixing you with a grim stare, as the plastic lips start moving and speaking in a soulless, metallic voice. Or if a gushing flood of roaches abruptly came pouring through those gaping, black eyeholes, covering the floor in an instant.

Now that’s the kind of disturbing creepiness that I’m talking about!  Happy Halloween, everyone!