. . . Tuesday October 31, 2006

Squashes of Mass Destruction

The product focus seems to have changed over the decades. This year, my halloween shopping is all about decorations for the house and giant bags of shrinking candy (why do they call the tiny pieces fun size?).

Back when I was a kid, once the lowest common denominator costume requirements were met (baseball cap, Giant’s t-shirt), my shopping list was altogether different. A bunch of us would head down to the Thrifty’s across from our school and purchase baskets full of the two items you needed for any self-respecting Halloween: Toilet paper and shaving cream (pity those who bought the gel stuff by accident).

Halloween was always a lot less about candy and costumes and a lot more about protecting yourself during what could only be described as a full invasion of the blocks near (but not too near) our houses. The candy was less about pleasure and more about providing that little extra energy rush so that you could nail the other kid with a face-full of Barbasol and split before he was able to pull his own can from its holster.

And the attacks and counter-attacks would go long into the night until every roll of toilet paper was down to its last square and every can of shaving cream was stone cold empty.

I was never the instigator (so don’t unsubscribe, Mom), but I was a willing accomplice in attacks on homes, cars, and peers and I stood by as unspeakably vile crimes were committed against mostly innocent pumpkins.

Castlewood was the most dangerous street in the neighborhood and it was also the steepest where suburban assault teams would roll oversized pumpkins (SMD: squashes of mass destruction) from the top of the hill down to the bottom, taking out whoever was in the way. And these weren’t the local kids. These were outside agitators, evil-doers, pumpkin rolling ringers who arrived via big tired pick-up trucks to make sure that we all knew dress up night didn’t change the bully hierarchy one bit. And believe me, a pumpkin can gain some pretty good speed as it rolls down a hill more than 1/2 mile long. One year, a kid was hospitalized after being upended by a speeding pumpkin.

Even now, my Halloween experience is informed by the post traumatic stress of these childhood experiences. I live in the city (am I the only one whose social fear increases with the level of rurality?). My house is on one of the flattest streets in town. After hearing the doorbell ring, I always open the door pretty slowly. And I never even think about shaving.

Sidenote: I will trade any candy you want for Smarties.


Are you ever too old to go trick or treating? Um, yes.

Does Halloween create a stigma about mental illness?

Halloween is America’s Second Cheesiest Holiday

Nothing can round out a nutritious night of munching down Peanut Butter Cups and Snickers like a few slices of pizza. Is that part of your plan? You’re not alone. Halloween is the second busiest night of the year for Pizza joints.

and …

Eat Less, Live Longer (darn)

Those of us who were hoping for science to show a little love to high carb gluttony have been foiled once again. There is increasing scientific evidence that one of the best ways to extend life is through something ominously called calorie restriction. Animals who have been put on diets that cut their caloric intake by about 30% seem to be more healthy and live longer (their counterparts could be the only animal testing participants I don’t feel sorry for). According to a professor from MIT: “In mice, calorie restriction doesn’t just extend life span. It mitigates many diseases of aging: cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disease. The gain is just enormous.”

This is probably not great news for Takeru Kobayashi.

The Boring Twenties

Did you know that part of the federal funding that goes toward abstinence programs is targeted at folks between the ages of 20 and 29? Ok, then remind me again. What’s the point of being in your twenties?


People can’t drive. People talking on cell phones really can’t drive. Enter web access for drivers … More than $160 million bucks have been spent on negative ads this season (about $17 million on positive ones) … Politicians who write dirty novels (a quiz) … Renting purses online (please, not another bubble) … Rescuing Hubble … Race on the ballot in Michigan … And Oprah turns her audience members into philanthropists (is the word cult popping into anyone else’s head?) …

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