Archive for October, 2008

Here’re are some fun Halloweenie facts taken from here. This, in case you didn’t know, is one of my most favorite days of the year. I know that makes me weird.

  • Behind the name “Halloween”, or the “Hallow E’en” as they call it in Ireland, means ‘All Hallows Eve’, or the night before the ‘All Hallows’, also called ‘All Hallowmas’, or ‘All Saints’, or ‘All Souls’ Day, observed on November 1.
  • The history of Halloween dates back to 5th century BC, to the Celtic celebration of the dead. A Celtic festival was held on November 1, the first day of the Celtic New Year. The holiday was called Samhain (sow-en).
  • One story says that on Nov. 1 the disembodied spirits of all those who had died throughout the preceding year would come back in search of living bodies to possess for the next year. It was believed to be their only hope for the afterlife. The Celts believed all laws of space and time were suspended during this time, allowing the spirit world to intermingle with the living.
  • Naturally, the still living did not want to be possessed. So on the night of October 31, villagers would extinguish the fires in their homes, to make them cold and undesirable. They would then dress up in all manner of ghoulish costumes and noisily paraded around the neighborhood, being as destructive as possible in order to frighten away spirits looking for bodies to possess.
  • Another one of those interesting Halloween facts has to do with the custom of trick-or-treating. This custom is thought to have originated not with the Irish Celts, but with a ninth-century European custom called “souling”. On November 2, All Souls Day, early Christians would walk from village to village begging for “soul cakes,” made out of square pieces of bread with currants. The more soul cakes the beggars would receive, the more prayers they would promise to say on behalf of the dead relatives of the donors. At the time, it was believed that the dead remained in limbo for a time after death, and that prayer, even by strangers, could expedite a soul’s passage to heaven.
  • Much later down the timeline of the history of Halloween, a Christian feast day dedicated to the Virgin Mary and the martyrs was moved to November 1st from May 13th by the Roman Catholic Church in 835 AD in order to mark the dedication of the All Saints Chapel in Rome- establishing November 1st as ‘All Saints Day’ and October 31st as “All Hallow Even”, eventually “All Hallow’s Eve”, “Hallowe’en”, and then – “Halloween”.
  • When the potato crop in Ireland failed (around the 1840’s) many of the Irish people, modern day descendents of the Celts, immigrated to America , bringing with them their folk practices, which are the remnants of the Celtic festival observances. This migration had a great impact on the history of Halloween. The first lighted fruit was really carved out of gourds and turnips (just like in the folk tale). European custom also included carving scary faces into the gourds and placing embers inside to light them. This was believed to ward off evil spirits, especially spirits which roamed the streets and countryside during All Hallows Eve. Once coming to America , they quickly discovered that pumpkins were bigger and easier to carve.
  • Another assumption: On the evening before Samhain (another name for Halloween), people left food on their doorsteps to keep hungry spirits from entering the house. Festivalgoers started dressing in ghost, witch, and goblin costumes so that wandering spirits would leave them alone. To this day, these are Halloween’s most popular costumes.
  • The Jack-o-lantern custom probably comes from Irish folklore. As the tale is told, a man named Jack, who was notorious as a drunkard and trickster, tricked Satan into climbing a tree. Jack then carved an image of a cross in the tree’s trunk, trapping the devil up the tree. Jack made a deal with the devil that, if he would never tempt him again, he would promise to let him down the tree. According to the folk tale, after Jack died, he was denied entrance to Heaven because of his evil ways, but he was also denied access to Hell because he had tricked the devil. Instead, the devil gave him a single ember to light his way through the frigid darkness. The ember was placed inside a hollowed-out turnip to keep it glowing longer.
  • The Irish used turnips as their “Jack’s lanterns” originally. But when the immigrants came to America , they found that pumpkins were far more plentiful than turnips. So the Jack-O-Lantern in America was a hollowed-out pumpkin, lit with an ember.
  • Growing big pumpkins is a big-time and serious hobby. Top prize money for the biggest giant pumpkin is as much as $25,000 dollars at fall festivals. The current world record for giant pumpkins is 1446 pounds (that’s a lot of pumpkin pies!).
  • More interesting Halloween facts have to do with witches. “Witch” comes from the Saxon word wicca which means ‘wise one’. Witches were thought to be wise enough to tell the future.
  • Did you know that orange and black became Halloween colors because orange is associated with harvests and black is associated with death.
  • The tradition of bobbing for apples is also part of the history of Halloween and is known to have come about from the Roman’s Pomona Day. Romans honored the dead with a festival called Feralia in late October. It honored Pomona , their goddess of fruit trees who was often pictured wearing a crown of apples. During this festival, they ran races and played games to honor the “Apple Queen” and used omens such as apple parings thrown over the shoulder or nuts burned in the fire in order to predict the future concerning their marital prospects. When the Romans conquered the Celts, they combined local Samhain customs with their own pagan harvest festival. Bobbing for apples was derived from this blended pagan celebration.

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I always think it’s funny how people actually report polling results when everyone knows they’re just another part of the PR machine. They always are. Things will play out the way they will and the polling predictions are as reliable as opinions about how the economy will fluctuate. Paying attention to the polls — and reporting the results — are nothing more than attempts to swing your vote one way or another. Make no mistake.

Just wanted to get that out off the top. I think I’ll try to go tomorrow and vote early. I know where I stand and it’s not with Marx. And those who try to discount the obvious interest in that philosophy from one of the candidates should remember that revolution usually happens from the inside. And Marx was a pretty bourgeoisie fellow who really couldn’t identify with the “worker” he was lamenting as downtrodden. Sound familiar? It reminds me of the foolish fellow I once dated who had a fascination with Nietzche. “You know he was insane, right?” I asked foolish fellow. He didn’t know. That’s a vital piece of information about the usefulness of his point of view. I’m not saying that fact changes someone’s message, just puts it into context. And we can always use a little context. In fact, I believe it’s the only way to make informed decisions.

[UPDATE: just because it’s hilarious, here’s a quote about Nietzsche from someone named “Matty” responding to a thread on surveycentral.org concerning whether or not a quote of his was true or false. It came up in a google search and I just thought it was the funniest thing — and yet, so, so true — so here it is:

“Nietzshe was an [sic] butt-hole; plus, he died a lonely old drunk because nobody liked him. I believe the technical reason was pneumonia and related complications, but I think that was brought on by depression because he tortured himself with his own bullcrap.”

Sage words Matty. Sage words.]

Anyway, I’m with Krauthammer. I’ll go with the one who can tell the lion from the lamb.

And here’s something my brother sent me. It speaks volumes. And I changed the last part to “conservative philosophy” from “Republican party” because I’m not sure either party really has the humility to claim the simple truth this story seeks to promote.

I was talking to a friend of mine’s little girl, and she said she
wanted to be President some day. Both of her parents, liberal
Democrats, were standing there, so I asked her, ‘If you were President

what would be the first thing you would do?’

She replied, ‘I’d give food and houses to all the homeless people.’

‘Wow – what a worthy goal!’ I told her, ‘You don’t have to wait until
you’re President to do that. You can come over to my house and mow,
pull weeds, and sweep my yard, and I’ll pay you $50.

Then, I’ll take you over to the grocery store where the homeless guy

out, and you can give him the $50 to use toward food or a new house.’

She thought that over for a few moments because she’s only 6. And
while her Mom glared at me, she looked me straight in the eye and
asked, ‘Why doesn’t the homeless guy come over and do the work, and
you can just pay him the $50?’

And I said, ‘Welcome to the conservative philosophy.’

Her folks still aren’t talking to me.

Also, check out the newest, most awesomest blog on the block Loess is More. Go write snarky comments. She loves that…

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Finally saw Wicked last night at the Fab Fox in Atlanta and it was totally worth the wait. So what if the 6’4″ gentleman in front of me who looked to want to be anywhere but there wouldn’t sit still. He couldn’t ruin the show for me — it was that good. It was so good that even he willingly suspended disbelief at some point and just took in the spectacle that is live musical theater. It’s just eye and ear candy and I love it! And The Fox — ah, so many memories of dressing up for the yearly school Christmas field trip to see the Nutcracker (thanks for the reminder Scott!). Weirdly masonic and smelling pretty good — a feat given the number of rock shows housed there over the years — The Fox is something everyone should experience. We even ate at the Atlanta institution Mary Macs Tea Room and I think I’ve convinced my editor to let me write about it. Good times, good times.

I see Alvin Ailey’s coming in February…Who’s going with me?

Here’s an Alvin Ailey teaser…you know you wanna go…

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One of those damn days. Could be the rain, could be that strange tundra between change and stagnation I’ve been crossing for, literally, years (long story. sigh.), but either way, the afternoon mocha is only slightly helping. This however, helps a lot. I stole it from Wall Street Fighter a day or so ago and sent it to a bearded one here at work who has a sense of humor I admire. And he laughed. It was like making Richard Pryor laugh. It felt good. So here it is for you — be sure to scroll to the bottom and read the other funnies (these were created by a dating site so they have a common theme but are funny nonetheless) particularly the “How to Impress a Girl” one.

You think I’d be happy to have a few decisions to make instead of crying in the shower asking God not to abandon me. And yes, I really did that…weak.

(I almost forgot…beautiful Shana and Fonze are expecting their first baby in May so pop on over to Kia Ora, Ya’ll and chart the development of what will, without doubt, be the birth of one cool kid. Love you my little Kiwis!)

Happy Friday wherever you are.

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You know, it was suggested to me at one time that Joe Biden was making loaded statements in an attempt to sabotage his own campaign and, of course, I just chuckled at the silliness of the thought. But now…I don’t know man. Maybe he’s seriously worried about some things. It would be hard to say no when someone taps you for the VP slot so maybe he’s trying to do the right thing…Those more cynical than I will surely snort at the idea but if it were me (I would’ve said no in the first place but barring that…) I may be inclined to do the same thing. Just a thought.

Thomas Sowell on media coverage of the election and the race card. I love the rational thinker, that is to say, the thinker who comes to his opinion based on the flow of conditional logic: if there’s a tendency to portray one side more negatively than the other, then there may be a bias. Simple. Beware the complicators — they mean you harm.

I found this the other day. I laughed for a quite a while after I saw it — particularly with fond remembrances of the gentleman who wore a tie for no reason. I offer it now to you to make your mid-week a bit brighter.

Also, I’m happy to announce that my magazine has started to post some of the actual pieces online which makes it so much easier to grab clips for a portfolio. Here’s what I’ve been writing about lately…it’s not as exciting as all the music coverage I used to do but hey man, I get to eat for free a lot of the time and, as my wise friend Annette told me during our teenage years, never pass up a free meal. You just don’t know when you’ll eat again.

And, oh yeah, I know no one cares but this is the most beautiful dress evar! I want…front, back.

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Man I miss this show. Someone needs to put in on the air in syndication stat. Or buy me the box set. Whichever’s more convenient for you…

UPDATE: I just noticed what an obvious Christmas present hint this is. I really didn’t mean it that way…but it’s called News Radio in case you ever need to know…for some other reason or something…

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Ah, a day off. *sigh*

I keep getting slammed over the head with the concept of “nuance.” Duh, it’s an election year, you say. I know, I know…but, as a concept, nuance, or subtleties, has never really been one I’ve meditated on much. It’s hit me in a few ways in particular lately — the subtle differences between what people say and what they mean (if they’re clever); the nuances of man, i.e. the continuum of good to bad we all slide around on; and how nuance can be both a very good and very bad thing. And it’s different from the idea of relativity — it’s more, well, nuanced. I’m just thinking is all…quit making fun of me…

Shades of things to (potentially) come. Pay close attention to how people want things for free — even when they can afford them — and how that particular nuance of man’s general character tends to cause problems. So, because I’ve been asked lately to defend why I believe certain things, I hope this goes a step in convincing those who disagree with me that it’s nothing personal. It’s just observation. And my mind can be changed. But the argument better be rock solid because observation doesn’t lend itself to many holes…

I’ve been listening to this soundtrack at work. It’s mostly Elvis Costello and it’s pretty awesome desk music. Check out his cover of Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful.”

and a lolCat and some dead-on impersonations because they make me laugh. Have some fun this fin de semana.

more animals

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Playas f**k up

I don’t know why but this scene from Next Friday has been playing in my head for several days. I’m sure it’s because my work friend Larry keeps saying, “I got mind control over Deebo. He be like ‘shut the f**k up.’ I be quiet. But when he leave, I be talking again.”

I just love when Dayday (sp?) says, “…glitter…”

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My brothers (one biological, the other in spirit) came up Saturday to have a little tailgate and then watch Tennessee eat the pigskin. Aw, poor Vols…*evil laugh*

The best part of the day was the part where Bro sat down on the steps in front of Park Hall next to these very drunk girls — almost on top of them in fact — to see if they’d notice (they didn’t) and then one of them looks up from a nasty cut on her foot and slurred, “Do ya’ll have like a paper towel or tissue or shumshing…?”

Then Spirit Bro pulls this semi-nasty tissue from his pocket and was like “I don’t really know where it’s been…” (she used it anyway).

Then Spirit Bro looks at her cut, thoughtfully cocks his head to one side and goes, “Yeah, it looks like that parasite needs to come out. Just pull hard on it…”

Man, the vacant look on her face was so awesome…

Anyway, here’s a few pics — not the best ones but those must remain private (pun intended *evil laugh*)

And apparently, according to Mrs. Bro, there was an altercation in the parking lot following the demise of the orange scourge *evil laugh*. Here’s her description:

“Speaking of the parking lot, we returned there after the game and pulled out some munchies before diving into traffic. Would you believe we had a “Fight Club” scene in the parking lot??? It was absolutely insane. It wasn’t as if the two guys fighting acted mad at one another. It truly had that “Fight Club” feel. In the end, the smaller guy was out cold (or possibly worse). We called 911 and an ambulance got there surprisingly quick, considering all the chaos that was likely going on in that town! It was absolutely surreal, and I sincerely hope the guy is going to come out of this ok. That’s not a given, by any stretch.”

Kinda glad I missed that…were either of them wearing orange? *evil laugh*

Seriously tho — I hope he’s okay, too and I’m sorry you had a bit of a crazy end to the evening. But don’t let it stop you from coming back…the non-alcohol zone is so peaceful…

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This issue of character keeps coming up lately so I thought I better address it before the universe slaps me down for not paying attention. It’s a concept that was drilled into me as a child and, who am I kidding, well into my adulthood to the present day by my parents. They thought of character as the thing that defines a person and dictates the decisions they’ll make and their method for handling both success and failure. It’s a hard concept — and one I battled as a child when I would promise someone to do something and then try to back out of and my parents would remind me that failure to live up to promises is a bad character flaw. And that look of disappointment was just too much man. So I followed through on whatever thing it was I had promised but found distasteful. And, funny thing, it always turned out enjoyable on some level. Funny how putting your own needs aside tends to actually be fulfilling…

Anyway, I came across this nifty quote in the book I’m currently reading, Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential, the other night:

“Bigfoot [Bourdain’s early mentor in the restaurant underworld] understood — as I came to understand — that character is far more important than skills or employment history…He understood, and taught me, that a guy who shows up every day on time, never calls in sick and does what he said he was going to do is less likely to fuck you in the end than a guy who has an incredible resume but is less than reliable about arrival time. Skills can be taught. Character you either have or don’t have. Bigfoot understood there are two types of people in the world: those who do what they say they’re going to do — and everyone else.”

I only mention this because of all the talk of associations — in the larger (ahem, political) sphere and, frankly, in my own small, microcosmic world. The issue of associations, and guilt by, has been cropping up a lot lately for this kid. Pretty uncomfortably so in fact.

Charles Krauthammer’s column today [you may have to register but it’s worth it…] help put the world sphere in perspective. Just trying to work out what to do about the microcosm…I’m inclined to say that I understand how hard it is to swim against the stream. I’ve cried many times because I was forced to recognize character as important despite the fact that there are times in my life where everyone else is saying it’s not and to just shut up about it and get on board. I get how painful it is.

But the truth is all I can do, like my parents, is be disappointed that you’re not learning. Can’t make you understand.

Be good to yourself this weekend.

**My apologies to Nate, who lent me the book, for using it to prop up my political ideology when, I suspect, you don’t share my opinion. It’s a fantastic book though so thanks for the loan.

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