HOLLOW HALLOWEEN

An opinion…by Suzanne Watson

I read the other day that Americans will spend $6.9 billion on Halloween this year, more than any other holiday except Christmas.  The head of the National Retail Association says that Halloween is now a “season”.  I guess I should have known that, what with all the paraphernalia that is evident everywhere from the grocery store to Ace Hardware.  But when did this happen?  When did Halloween turn into something that – like Christmas – the retailers have taken over and completely exploited?

At the risk of sounding like Andy Rooney, it seems like Halloween has gotten much too complicated.  When I was a kid Halloween was simple.  Costumes were cobbled together from things found around the house – a sheet with holes in it for a ghost or towels pinned around the neck for a Superman cape.  If one was really lucky you had a grandparent with a glass eye so you could borrow their patch for a pirate costume.  The occasional kid bought a plastic mask at the five and dime but that was thought to be phony and close to cheating.  The fun of Halloween was using our imagination to come up with the cleverest costume.  We proudly marched in our school parades and vied for the prize for best costume.   Yep – they gave out one award.  We didn’t get a ribbon just for participating.

On Halloween night, we were let loose in the neighborhoods near us with a battle plan that would have done justice to an Army general.  We plotted out which houses to avoid – those that gave out hard candy or fruit – and which to hit first.  The lady around the corner was always our starting point because she made delicious popcorn balls.  Then we progressed to the homes that dished out candied apples, divinity, brownies, and fudge.  We never gave a thought about eating food that had been prepared by someone we didn’t really know.  It was all home-made, lovingly wrapped up in waxed paper or aluminum foil, and it was scrumptious.

These days Halloween has turned into an extravaganza – or in the words of the retailers – a “season”.  At my local Target the part of the store that hasn’t already been turned into a Christmas wonderland is dedicated to over-the-top Halloween displays.  And our Hallmark store is a complete freak show.   There are strings of lights to put on the house, special Halloween gift bags and toys, a Pin the Tail on the Cat game and aisle after aisle of decorations and party favors.

According to the article, adults are increasingly participating in this holiday that was once the domain of children.  I suppose we should have seen this coming.  People are in need of an escape these days and what better way to suppress your anger about your 401K than to dress up like one of the Angry Birds?  Still, it seems like this should be a holiday for children, not another excuse for mom and dad to dress up like fools (we still have New Year’s Eve for that).

But the real change is that so many kids no longer trick-or-treat.  Now the trend is to have home parties.    I know that there are more risks today and that the world is full of scary people, but I still find it sad that kids miss the fun of going house to house.  Because no matter how great the favors are from Target, it can’t be as much fun as plotting routes, knocking on strangers’ doors and being rewarded with popcorn balls.

Selfishly, I miss seeing the kids come around each year.  I miss asking them about their costumes and providing the appropriate response when they twirl in their princess dress or growl in their werewolf mask.  I still buy Snickers bars each Halloween in hopes that someone will come by, but inevitably they end up in my freezer.  Eventually my husband and I eat them and I end up doing extra time at the gym.  Halloween – and my metabolism – are both different these days.

THE SCARIEST HALLOWEEN IN YEARS

A commentary by Bob Sparrow

It’s that time of year, a time for scary things.  Here are some things that are scaring the shit out of me this Halloween.

  • Our government  Never have we been so polarized.  We see our government not trying to do what’s right for the American people, but making sure the other party doesn’t get credit for doing what’s right for the American people.  If you want to start an argument, just take a right or left position on a subject and you will very quickly see a ‘house divided’.  Our government is broken and no one seems to care, much less know how to fix it.
  • Politicians (Obviously I’m not done with our government yet!)  Today’s
    politicians from both parties are first, self-serving, then party-serving and rarely, if ever, think about 1) serving the people in their constituency, and 2) doing what is best for the country.  Our Social Security program is not good enough for them; our health care system is not good enough for them.  Get them on the same programs as the rest of us, get them term limits and get them out!  They are the problem they’re pretending to fix.
  • Our position on illegal aliens  What don’t people get about the word ‘illegal’?  We have always been a nation of laws, except when it comes to this issue.  It is now considered to be prejudicial and politically incorrect (another scary thing) to try to up-hold the law regarding this problem, because it is primarily directed at the Hispanic community.  Bull shit!  Illegal is illegal.  We have good immigration laws, it’s scary that we don’t enforce them.
  • The dumbing down of America.  Perhaps it’s because modern technology has exposed more, but wow, are we stupid!  People don’t read anymore, they get their news, thoughts and cultural enlightenment from reality TV and celebrity
    tweets.  It’s scary how important what Lindsay Lohan and Kim Kardashian are doing.  Our commitment to education is best demonstrated by the ever-widening
    gap between what we pay our professional athletes and what we pay our teachers.
  • Retirement.  It’s turned me into a sedentary curmudgeon.

 What’s scaring you this Halloween? 

Use our ‘Comments’ section to let us know.

THE BOOB TUBE

Headlines:  Keep the kids away from the debates! 

The experts now report that second-hand TV is bad for kids,

Its distractions and diversions can put their learning on the skids.

They say the kids need face time and interactive talk,

Else they’ll end up unable to simultaneously chew gum and  walk.

Money: Can we look forward to the McBratwurst? 

McDonald’s has announced it is bringing back the McRib,

And we have to say it looks tasty – about that we cannot fib.

In Germany they offer it year ‘round, but not here in the U.S.,

Their marketers know what we cannot have will cause us to obsess.

Sports:  Why don’t we throw in a car and a house while we’re at it? 

We think the NCAA has finally lost its grip,

They want to pay $2000 more on each athletic scholarship.

That’s in addition to tuition, books, board and all their fees,

How about they start requiring that more athletes earn degrees?

Life:  Newsflash:  Stupid is “in” again. 

As if there isn’t enough crap jamming the air waves,

Beavis and Butthead are coming back with their antics and their raves.

They’ve been gone for 14 years but here’s the real shock,

This time ‘round they aren’t the stupidest TV program on the block.

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I’m From The Government And I’m Here To Help

Headlines: Romney Practices Presidential Double-Speak

Did Romney hire illegal help to care for his lawn and yard?

He said in the debates this week that to know was really hard.

He bobbed and weaved so deftly, we didn’t know what he meant;

It looks like he is well-equipped to be our next president.

 

Money:  The One Step Forward, Two Steps Back Government Waltz

Social Security benefits, for the first time in three years

Will increase by 3.9 percent; we could hear the senior cheers.

But before they spend that money, there something they should know;

Their medical expenses will increase by four-point-oh.

 

Sports: It’s A Small World After All

It’s the start of the ‘Fall Classic’ when the rest of the world we snub;

With the exception of Toronto, which we’ve let into our club;

 Other countries that play baseball must surely feel quite slighted;

As we call it the World Series, but no other countries are invited.

 

Life: Believe Him Or Not 

Sometimes the weather’s sunny, sometimes a huge downpour,

But this week, climate guru and former veep Al Gore

Has warned us of our failings, global warming he lamented

In a story on the Internet, which he’ll tell you he invented.

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EVERYBODY HAS A BONE TO PICK

Headlines:  Some of these people can’t tell Groucho from Karl. 

The Occupy Wall Street group continues to rant and wail,

Pointing out that it’s just wrong to have a firm “too big to fail”.

But amongst the valid points and the demonstrating mood,

It would appear that some are there just to pick up the free food.

Money:  It’s nice to know that the same lame excuses are bi-lingual.

The Chinese head of Wal-Mart has announced he’ll leave his post,

“To spend time with his family” is what he tried to boast.

But we’ve been around the block and we recognize chagrin,

It seems our best export to China is the ability to spin.

Sports:  We can’t wait for the rematch.

The Series has been set and now we know which teams to cheer,

And in college the BCS released its first standings of the year.

But the coaches stole the story in the 49er’s and Lion’s fight,

And it’s kinda hard to decide whether Harbaugh or Schwartz was right.

Life:  Perhaps Bjork was his inspiration? 

Amidst Clooney’s new flick and “The Walking Dead” premiere,

This weekend brought us news that caused both dread and fear.

Stephen Tyler, that hot mess, will now sell clothes for the rich and hip,

We’re thinking the only thing worse is if he made liner for our lips.

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If We Have Checks Don’t We Still Have Money?

Headlines: Has anyone in government taken Econ 101?

Not Wall Street or Obama’s cabinet has figured out a plan;

It seems it’s basic economics, they just don’t understand.

The problem’s we’re not bringing in as much as we have spent

As those who paid NO taxes went to 47 percent!

Money: Could Motown be Notown?

“Imported from Detroit” is what Chrysler says for show,

But it seems that just like Ford, their cars are made in Mexico.

Will we see the day the industry just up and disappears,

When cars are coming from abroad and nothing is made here?

 –

Sports: Slam Dunk Turns into Lame Duck

Close the basketball areas and the NBA pavilions,

The players and the owners are still fighting for their millions.

If they cancelled the whole season, all the fans would be just fine,

‘Cuz we’ll see those greedy players in the unemployment line.

Life: Swift Assent

This year’s ‘Woman of the Year’ by Billboard magazine,

Is both a pop star diva and successful country queen.

She writes all of her music and sings it just for fun;

She’s Grammy winner Taylor Swift, and she’s just 21.

  –

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TOO MUCH INFORMATION

Headlines:  We’re guessing this was not funded by the One-A-Day company. 

Multivitamins are now bad for us, was the latest news today,

Causing heart attacks, cancer, and heck, probably tooth decay.

If they banish all the vitamins we think that we’ll be fine,

We’ll stick with the tried and true – dark chocolate and red wine.

Money:  It’s the G. I. Joe of soft drinks. 

Dr. Pepper has introduced a new diet drink called DP10,

With silver bullets as its décor, they say it’s aimed at men.

Really? They think the décor will make a macho man try it?

Only if it has boobs on the can will most men ask for “diet”.

Sports:  Did someone say “perfect endings”? 

The weekend saw two fitting tributes in the world of sports,

Proving that when it comes to games it really takes all sorts.

The Raiders won for Al Davis, baby, in an emotional scene,

And a fan launched a hot dog at Tiger while he was putting on the green.

Life:  Is there no such thing as “too personal” anymore? 

Sharon Osbourne was off  “The Talk” and it caused a bit of doubt,

But then she said she was absent to have her implants taken out.

She went on to say that one breast had grown longer and had leaked,

Gee, just hearing she was absent is when my interest level peaked.

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Come Together

Headlines: How do you misplace 20,000 missiles?

Libya had stock piled 20,000 missiles

That no one’s been able to find.

Perhaps they reflect Gadhafi’s old program

Of leaving no missile behind.

Money: Good Cop, Bad Cop

Europe’s top two economies were looking for methods

Of securing their banks and their borders.

The French, wine in hand, simply said, “S’il vous plait”,

While the Germans said, “Here are your orders!”

Sports: Jimmy Johnson Not Getting Anywhere

Here’s a shout out to NASCAR and the Kansas Cup race

Won by Johnson, but we can’t understand

 How he drove all those hours; did 300 laps

And ended right where he began.

Life: He’s Got a Ticket to Bride

Paul McCartney got married last weekend

He and Nancy Shevell became one.

At his age we hope he’s not singing

A song like Here Comes the Son.

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SAFE AT HOME

Headlines:  Can she still shop on Friends and Family day?

Sarah Palin has announced that she’s not going to run,

She’s going to focus on her family, at least that’s what she’s spun.

Many will be disappointed over her campaign carcass,

But none so much as Barney’s, Saks and Neiman Marcus.

Money:  They’re still dealing with “good bones”.

Mortgage rates have fallen to historic lows,

A great time to refinance if you haven’t been foreclosed.

Jobs are still hard to come by and that’s made home sales quite drastic,

Our agent now works at the market asking “paper or plastic?”

Sports:  And he doesn’t even have Cameron Diaz for some comfort.

YES!  It finally happened, the Tigers beat the Yankees,

Forcing Jeter and Rodriguez to cry into their hankies.

With their payroll they should win it all, that’s one of the theories,

But now they know money can’t buy you love or a World Series.

Life:  Are they displaying the big brain or the small one?

The town of Thal, Austria is paying homage to their native son,

Yes, “Ah-nuld” is being honored for all the things he’s done.

There will be a new museum with a life-size bronze statue,

And maybe the gift shop will have his paternity tests for review.

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