A Weenie Life

All things Halloween-ie.

Archive for the month “August, 2013”

It’s a Boy! And a Girl! And a Boy and a Girl and a Boy and a Girl

That’s right, my Weenies! I’m a proud parent once again…this time, of sextuplets. Or I hope they will be (more on that in a minute). Lookie here. My little babies. I’m so proud (sniffle):

PumpkinBabies

Having unfortunately killed off my first litter due to neglect (those were planted back in May), I had the sudden inspiration to try one last time, with my little ones planted front and center under my window, where I can’t help but see (and hopefully water) them.

There are three nice sprouts there. If all goes as biologically planned, that should mean plenty of males (why are there always more males? And they’re always more desperate) on all three plants, and hopefully females on at least one of those — or better yet, all three.

They’re in close proximity so that these little siblings can cross-polinate willy nilly when the time comes. (Eww…how very…Biblical.) Keep your fingers crossed, my Weenies! I may just have some little orange babies for the trick-or-treaters to see walking up the front steps this Halloween (and some pickables by Thanksgiving)!

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When is Halloween? I Don’t Know, I’ll Check My Calendar

But wait. Isn't that a school night? And the day of the football raffle? And soccer practice? And the Jewish observation of the last day of the Great Flood?

But wait. Isn’t that a school night? And the day of the football raffle? And the Jewish observation of the last day of the Great Flood as translated to the Roman-created 2013 calendar?

Okay, Weenies. So I’ve been reading quite a few blog posts lately about changing trick-or-treat dates to days other than Oct. 31. And (surprise) — I have an opinion or two about the subject.

Okay, so, exactly two opinions. And they’re conflicting.

Allow me to elaborate.

What it’s All About

If you haven’t heard of this practice, here it is in a nutshell: many cities across the U.S. elect an actual trick-or-treat date each year other than Oct. 31.

It’s been going on for years now. And it has quite a few Hallowphiles in an uproar — and petitioning their cities and counties to “keep Halloween Oct. 31.”

Why Not Move the Date?

On the one hand, yes, it seems stupid to move Halloween to a date other than October 31…from my own personal perspective, for the following reasons:

  • October 31 has always been Halloween; it’s tradition.
  • All Hallow’s Eve means, in its most literal sense, the day before All Saints (“Hallows”) Day, which is November 1. And the day before Nov. 1 is…yeah, you guessed it.
  • The standard reasons for changing the date in any given city stick in my craw. One popular reason: high school football games. (You’re kidding me. And I am a big supporter of high school football.) The second, often somewhat “hidden” reason (which was a huge one on Halloween 2010): trick-or-treating just can’t happen on a Sunday, ZOMG. You can’t have “the Devil’s holiday” on a hooooooooooly day. (Don’t even get me started.)
Trick-or-treat!

Trick or treat! Oh, sorry. This date just worked better for us.

And On the Other Hand…

On the other hand, is it really so crazy to have a holiday that “floats” on the calendar? Easter is a different date each year, for example. So is Thanksgiving.

And if we truly want to get real here about tradition, the ancient Celts almost certainly — hell, just certainly — did not celebrate Halloween on Oct. 31, except as an occasional (unknown to them) accident. They couldn’t have — they didn’t use a Roman calendar (until Roman occupation times, anyway).

Dissent…and That’s Just the Grownups

Frankly, the passionate uproar over floating trick-or-treat dates would have anyone believing that Halloween has some sort of dire future placed way off-schedule. The fist-pumping seems to have taken an almost anti-Orwellian rant for a few rebellious souls. (In the case of the author I just referenced — well, she seems to have tried for tongue-and-cheek, but she missed the mark by a hair. Just my opinion.)

And dissenters occupy city council meetings to protest the moving of their (and my) very favorite day…along with its glorious memories of being allowed out on a school night. (That’s when council members aren’t arguing amongst themselves to begin with.)

Anectodally, I’ve heard several stories of towns that were confused as to “when Halloween really was,” and had costumed children showing up on doorsteps on two or even three different days.

A Point We May All Be Missing: Nobody’s Actually Moving Halloween’s Date

Halloween will always be Halloween - no matter how, and when, we celebrate it.

Halloween will always be Halloween – no matter how, and when, we celebrate it.

One thing that seems to be flying over everyone’s head — dissenters and Koolaid-drinkers alike — is that Halloween’s date isn’t being moved, and hasn’t been moved in at least the past 15 centuries. Anywhere.

Rather, what’s being moved around (potentially) is the date for trick-or-treating in various cities or counties.

And yes, that makes me sad. I hate seeing my own childhood traditions changed. I always think mine must have been so much better than my children’s.

But folks. Doesn’t everyone think that? My mom thought her childhood Halloweens of a paper bag with holes cut out and magic marker drawings of pumpkins on the sides were “so much more special and meaningful” than my own trick-or-treating days in the 70s and 80s.

But the date of Halloween itself? All Hallow’s Eve? Still October 31. Trick-or-treating dates notwithstanding. No change at all there.

Now and, gods and ghouls willing, forever.

As For the Actual Trick-or-Treating…

If your city is moving trick-or-treating to a night other than Oct. 31 and you feel strongly about the change, by all means, visit your city council. There will undoubtedly be a meeting (or a number of them) to approve or reject the motion. Put your vote in, or at least let your voice be heard.

It’s important to note that parents and kids aren’t the only ones protesting a change of trick-or-treating dates across the nation. For many, many haunters, whose greatest pleasure is opening an elaborate, costly and very exhausting (gods bless ’em) haunt every year for the children on just one night a year, having that night be October 31 is very important — and can you blame them? I can’t.

But if you simply love the spookiness of Halloween, and all your protests haven’t been heard by the local Gestapo, don’t despair. You can still have trick-or-treating and Halloween night. Hold a special party on Oct. 31. Perform a ritual, if you’re religious. Light up all the lights on your haunt again, lack of trick-or-treaters be damned. Then next year, starting some time in August at the latest, visit your city council again to protest a non-Oct. 31 trick-or-treating date. “Once” or even “many times” does not equal always — if you’re willing to speak out.

Halloween will always be Halloween. We do have that choice, at least. May we always have that choice. Long live Halloween…no matter how, and when, you celebrate it.

**

NOTE: Please click on the images for credits to the artists. Freakin’ WordPress.

Brach’s Halloween Mellowcreme Candy

brachs

Fucking HEAVEN.

‘Nuff said.

Poisoned Candy Drama…Again

Okay, Weenies. I recently had the dubious pleasure of reading a teen essay on the dangers of Halloween, including the potential for adults poisoning candy and handing it out to trick-or-treaters. (To protect her privacy, I am not posting the author’s name or the link here.)

The essay was only two weeks old. Yes, folks, the “poisoned candy” scares are alive and well.

Is there any truth to these stories?

Oh shit! I knew it. Image: snopes.com

Oh shit! I knew it. Image: snopes.com

The Official Terrifying Halloween Candy Death Count: One Child in the Past 40 Years

Well, let’s check out the facts.

According to nbcnews.com, in the past four decades, there has been exactly one death directly attributed to Halloween candy poisoning. The poisoning and the child’s death occurred on Oct. 31, 1974.

…and Tragically, the Poisoning Was Actually Committed By a Family Member

Eight-year-old Timothy Marc O'Bryan was murdered by his father.

Eight-year-old Timothy Marc O’Bryan was murdered by his father.

Although the death of even one child is one too many, it is important to note that the candy was poisoned by the child’s father.

Dad desired the money from Junior’s life insurance policy, and as his coverup, he placed a poisoned Pixie Stix candy into his child’s bag and into the bags of several of the child’s friends. This was to create an assumption that someone in the neighborhood had randomly passed out poisoned candy. None of the other children were harmed.

The victim of the tragedy was eight-year-old Timothy Marc O’Bryan. His father, hideously coined “The Candyman,” was executed via lethal injection in 1984, 10 years after the incident.

This is sick, surely. But it is important to note that this was not a case of a random Halloween poisoning by a stranger or vicious neighbor.

Unfortunately, this image lives in the collective consciousness even today as “proof that random people try to poison children with Halloween candy” and that “Trick-or-treating is dangerous because of crazy, homicidal strangers” — the fact that this single recorded Halloween candy death was from a non-stranger notwithstanding.

Tampering Investigations: No Child Deaths, a Li’l Fibbin’

Of course, I’m all about keeping things real. Therefore I say: though Timothy O’Bryan’s death stands alone for the Halloween deaths via poisoning record, there have been been investigations involving potential tampering of Halloween candy.

Generally these have not involved poisons such as cyanide or arsenic, the exception being Helen Pfeil in the mid-1960s (see below).

None have ended in child deaths, most have been debunked by authorities as pranks (some on the part of the child him or herself) and several actual child deaths originally suspected of being Halloween candy poisoning were entirely disproven. (Tragically, one incident was a case of congenital heart disease; in another case, a child got into his parents’ heroin stash at home and overdosed.)

Snopes has a great list of various “Halloween candy tampering” allegations and the realities here.

The Originator of the “Poisoning” Frenzy: Helen Pfeil

A decade before the tragic and horrifying death of Timothy O’Bryan, a case of ant traps being handed out to trick-or-treaters started the “poisoned Halloween candy” frenzy. (The ensuing panic provided the M.O. for Ryan Clark O’Bryan to later murder his son.)

In 1964, New York housewife Helen Pfeil handed out non-candy items such as steel wool and dog biscuits to children she judged as “too old” to be trick-or-treating. Unfortunately, she also handed out “ant buttons,” intended to kill ants. She labeled these bags with a skull and crossbones. The ant buttons were clearly marked POISON and she outright told the children as she handed out these bags that they were NOT meant to be eaten, according to authorities. Remember, her point was to “ah-ha” the kids and shame them for trick-or-treating past a certain age.

Though her actions were unbelievably stuipid and irresponsible, as well as potentially harmful, this was not a case of a child hater lying in wait to kill unsuspecting children.

But whatever her warped reasoning and her “precautions,” her actions began a half-century long rumor mill.

Pin/Needle/Razor Blade Investigations

There have been several investigations over the past 50 years of objects, such as pins, possibly being embedded into Halloween candy (no deaths or permanent damage ensued). It’s worthy of note that no case of a razor blade being embedded in an apple and handed to a trick-or-treater has ever been substantiated.

The single undeniably provable case was James Joseph Smith, who embedded needles in Snickers bars in 2000. One child was pricked; no other children were harmed.

According to snopes.com, nearly all “object embedment” cases were found to be untrue or were perpetuated by the “victim” him or herself.

Non-Halloween Related Attempted Poisonings: The Media Fuels the Fire

There have also been, of course, the various highly publicized incidents of store shelf items being tampered with, though these are in no way restricted to candy and most have absolutely no connection to Halloween.

The gold-standard example of these was the tampered Tylenol incident, known as “the Chicago Tylenol murders,” in 1982.

The tampered Tylenol capsules sparked a huge media frenzy “warning” parents that the same could happen to Halloween candy (um…why? I guess because it happened in October?). Multiple broadcasts linking the Tylenol poisonings to potential Halloween horrors had parents across the nation either holding their kids back from trick-or-treating or taking bags of candy to be X-rayed.

Today, the media continues to fan the flames each year with explicit warnings related to Halloween candy (without actually providing data to back up the extent of this fear). Because fear for our children is perhaps our greatest, deepest and most emotional worry, media-encouraged “Halloween candy panic” is re-fueled en force each October, facts be damned. (Linking the word “poisoning” with “children” in any unsubstantiated way is sure to have its effect; it’s media gold.)

Of course, two wonderful things result each year: 1. children who were already not in danger continue to not be in danger and 2. the media makes a HELL of a lot of money. So if you’re a news jockey, bully for you; at least someone is getting something out of all this.

What Can Cause Halloween Deaths? Cars, Say Officials

In fact, the number one cause of injury to children on Halloween is car accidents — a smarter, more real and more controllable fear to address. Levelheaded precautions include wearing glow sticks or reflective clothing, holding your children’s hands while crossing streets, and not going onto busy streets. As a driver, drive very carefully on Halloween.

Be Smart, Not Scared

People, please don’t add to the unsubstantiated Halloween candy panic.

Be smart. If candy has been opened, it could be contaminated by perfectly mundane things — feces on unwashed hands, for example. Throw such items away.

If You Suspect Tampering

Do they really still sell these things?

Do they really still sell these things?

Of course, just because it generally doesn’t happen doesn’t mean it can’t happen, amiright?

Your child’s Halloween candy (or your makeup, your son’s school glue, the lettuce on the produce shelf, that Egg McMuffin you munched on the way to work or any random Advil…or pretty much anything, if you really want to be a paranoid freak about it) could leave you suspicious in some way.

So I’ve compiled a few handy tips.

1. If a piece of your child’s Halloween candy has 90 little pin pricks in it, is torn wide-open and has something odd and white sprinkled all over it or has a huge old-school razor blade sticking out (do they actually still sell those things?), take the candy to the police, duh.

Or just eat all their trick-or-treat candy. My kids thank me. No. THEY DO.

Or just eat all their trick-or-treat candy. My kids thank me. No. They DO.

2. “Test” your child’s candy first: eat half of every piece. This is far and away my favorite method of keeping my children safe from unsubstantiated urban legends. Just taking one for the team here. My kids haven’t yet gotten it together enough to question why I always seem to suspect the Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups the most. I’m hoping I can ride this out for a few more years.

3. If you open an investigation (police have nothing better to do on Halloween night) involving some weird object sticking out of an apple and your child (and his friends, all of whom are now laughing their balls off at Mom) is revealed to be the culprit, do the following:

  • Ground him. For at least a month. I mean…are you kidding me?
  • Charge him out of his allowance for every bottle of hair color you’re forced to now buy based on the gray hairs the incident has given you.
  • Throw his phone, tablet and Xbox into the toilet.
  • Tell him he’s lucky that’s all the punishment Mommy doled out for scaring the living fuck out of her.

…And if You’re That Scared…Don’t Take Your Kids Out. Leave the Fun to the Rest of Us

I am not belittling the very few real incidents, nor am I downplaying child safety. I’m a parent too, after all. I’d be gutted if anything ever happened to any of my children.

However, there’s a very real bottom line here. Parents, if, despite the data, you’re still frightened your children might fall prey to some child-hating monster on your block, don’t take your kids out trick-or-treating. It’s that simple. You’re the parent. It’s your choice.

Protect your kids from danger! Have them eat irradiated candy.

Keep your children safe! Place them and their uncovered genitals on an X-ray table. Then have them eat the irradiated candy.

…Or: Simply Expose Your Child’s Food to Radiation. Danger Averted!

It boggles my mind that thousands of Halloween candy bags are X-rayed by various police headquarters, hospitals and other facilities in the U.S. every year.

Really? You suspect that “maybe” your neighbors are attempting to murder your children with candy…so you’re going to let the kids go out, probably munch half their candy on the way (if they’re normal kids) but hey, later you’re going to have the remainder X-rayed so it’s probably okay?

Yeah, erm…so maybe we just have different parenting styles.

If I “suspected” my neighbors were out to kill my children (logic notwithstanding), you can be damned sure I’d just have a little party for my children in our own house on Halloween.

The Bottom Line

I would hate to put the kibosh on trick-or-treating, but please know that, facetious comments aside, I do take parents’ concerns seriously. (Especially when they’re real, substantiated concerns…not rumor.) I am in no way trying to encourage frightened parents to put themselves into a situation that will worry them. If it worries you, don’t do it.

This post is not an agenda-driven call for parents to send their kids willy-nilly out onto the streets every October 31. That’s their decision, and I have no personal stake in who trick-or-treats and who doesn’t.

However, my feeling on the matter is that smart, informed parents will still take their kids out…and will still take the smartest steps to keep their children safe. Bottom line, they’ll make smart decisions, whether those involve trick-or-treating or staying home.

But feeding the media that doesn’t actually give one shit about your children, and instead is deliberately trying to terrify you in order to make front-page news? Come on.

How is that keeping anyone safe?

Do your homework, make your decision…and whatever you come up with, have a happy and safe Halloween.

Peace out, my Weenies.

The Screaming is Always the Funniest Part

Amiright?

Halloween Makeup Comes of Age: Wicked Cool Art

Makeup? Did somebody say makeup?

Oh…because I thought they said “art.”

And that’s exactly what I’ve been seeing these past two to three years when it comes to dolling oneself up for Halloween.  Real live (well, real undead), bonafide art. Love, love, love this trend.

Wish I had an "origins" credit for this one, but the look speaks for itself. So full of awesome.

Wish I had an “origins” credit (and the artist’s name) for this one, but the look speaks for itself. So full of awesome.

It's screamin' with cool.

It’s screamin’ with cool.

makeup3

How fun is this? Comic book retro.

makeup4

Dia de los Muertos: beautiful.

Remember when I made a li'l wee-wee? Well, I just made some again.

Remember when I made a li’l wee-wee? Well, I just made some again.

NOTE TO ARTISTS/MODELS: I had linked each and every one of these images…and now the links are gone. Retrieved them all over the course of a couple of hours, WordPress refused to save them. Fucking WordPress. If this is your image, please contact me. I would love to give you credit.

And On Today’s Edition of Divorce Court…

I like to call this little vignette “If the Marx Brothers Had Ever Tied the Knot” (or simply: You Are Never Sleeping With Me Again).  p.s. You WISH this were your marriage.

Halloween and its Origins In Basketball

“It is believed that the Celtics were the originators of Halloween.”

Who knew? Go Celtics!

The originators of Halloween, in their winning 2008 season.

The originators of Halloween, in their winning 2008 season.

Jack Chick Tracts: Kids, Don’t Let This Happen To You

Poor Timmy. If ONLY he had never...read this Jack Chick tract.

Poor Timmy. If ONLY he had never…read this Jack Chick tract.

I’m totally giving these out this Halloween. Because it’s been such a long time since I’ve had my house egged, my car keyed, had my children made permanent pariahs and ensured that they never, ever get laid until they leave town and change their names.

Kids! Save yourselves! Burn a bunch of these.

What. No Slutty Forensic Entomologists?

Yep, this is for sure what I've always wanted to be. Undressed.

Yep, this is for sure what I’ve always wanted to be. Undressed.

Ever notice how every woman’s Halloween costume is a slutty something? Slutty nurse, slutty librarian, slutty cheerleader, slutty zombie, slutty Margaret Thatcher.

(Okay, so I haven’t actually seen a slutty Margartet Thatcher…yet. I’m sure it’s out there.)

When it comes to Halloween, guys get to have all the fun. They can be ax murderers without showing a single shred of skin. They can be corporate stiffs, private detectives, boxes of crayons (yes, with real pants underneath the box), whatever the hell they want.

But with women, if you don’t let loose a good strong line of cleavage (in either crack…or preferably, both),  it just isn’t a costume.

Well, take a gander at this. Because it’s called “Take Back Halloween,” I assumed this site would be either a call to the retro or a lot of Wiccans pleading with big eyes. (Not that there’s anything wrong with Wiccans. Don’t you get all up in my stuff, now.)

What the...? I'll bet these chicks never did a beer bong in their lives.

What the…? I’ll bet these chicks never did a beer bong in their lives.

Nope. It’s “a costume guide for women with imagination.” Imagination? What’s that? And does it have anything to do with nipples and Hennessy?

If you have a double-X genotype and love Halloween, you have got to check out this site. Cool costumes — some with a sexiness for sure, but absolutely no slutty forensic entomologists.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to that slutty chicken sexer costume I’ve been working on.

Love,

Weenie

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