Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy Halloween

To quote the Cowardly Lion, "I do believe in spooks, I do believe in spooks, I do  I do I do I do believe in spooks."

Best Halloween memories? Going trick-or-treating and filling our pillowcases with candy. We'd stay out as long as we could and go as far as our little legs would carry us.There was always a house with an old lady who invited the children into her kitchen where the table was spread with the good stuff: big chocolate bars, popcorn balls, cupcakes, and assorted goodies. Of course, we'd heard the story about Hansel and Gretel and how the witch would use candy and sweets to lure unsuspecting children into her clutches, but this was a nice old lady who had  been drinking spice tea and watching Jeopardy on TV.

Then there was the house that was dark with a creepy scarecrow on a chair on the front porch next to a jack-o-lantern. Just when you got to the door, he jumped out and said "Boo!" Some kids ran away screaming in terror, but the brave ones stayed to get some treats. It was worth it. Seemed like if someone was going to go to all the trouble to scare kids, the treats were usually pretty good. Not apples and raisins, if you know what I mean.

At home, we'd watch the Charlie Brown Halloween special. Charlie Brown always got a bag of rocks. And Linus always missed Halloween because he was sitting in the pumpkin patch waiting for the Great Pumpkin. I felt sorry for Linus. He totally got ripped off. and not only that, he dragged Sally down with him:

SALLY: I was robbed! I spent the whole night waiting for the Great Pumpkin, when I could have been out for tricks or treats. Halloween is over, and I missed it! You blockhead. You kept me up all night waiting for the Great Pumpkin, and all that came was a beagle. I didn't get a chance to go out for tricks or treats. And it was all your fault. I'll sue! What a fool I was! I could have had candy apples and gum and cookies and money and all sorts of things, but no, I had to listen to you. You blockhead. What a fool I was. Trick or treats come only once a year. And I missed it by sitting in a pumpkin patch with a blockhead. YOU OWE ME RESTITUTION!

And let's not forget the costumes! I've been a pirate, a gypsy, a ghost, a mummy and a monster. But my favorite was a witch. I got to wear a black hat and black cloak and "fly" around on my broomstick. This was decades before Harry Potter. Witches and Halloween go together like Tom and Jerry. Or Bugs and Elmer. Or Fred and Barney. Well, you get the idea.
I liked telling ghost stories and reading scary books. To this day I enjoy reading Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven" every year at Halloween. For the best effect, read it at night by candle light.

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 visitor,' I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door -
Only this, and nothing more.'

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; - vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow - sorrow for the lost Lenore -
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named Lenore -
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me - filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
`'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door -
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; -
This it is, and nothing more,'

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
`Sir,' said I, `or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you' - here I opened wide the door; -
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, `Lenore!'
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, `Lenore!'
Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
`Surely,' said I, `surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore -
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; -
'Tis the wind and nothing more!'

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door -
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door -
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
`Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,' I said, `art sure no craven.
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the nightly shore -
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning - little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door -
Bird or beast above the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as `Nevermore.'

But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only,
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered - not a feather then he fluttered -
Till I scarcely more than muttered `Other friends have flown before -
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.'
Then the bird said, `Nevermore.'

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
`Doubtless,' said I, `what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore -
Till the dirges of his hope that melancholy burden bore
Of "Never-nevermore."'

But the raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore -
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking `Nevermore.'

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o'er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
`Wretch,' I cried, `thy God hath lent thee - by these angels he has sent thee
Respite - respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil! -
Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted -
On this home by horror haunted - tell me truly, I implore -
Is there - is there balm in Gilead? - tell me - tell me, I implore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us - by that God we both adore -
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels named Lenore -
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels named Lenore?'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!' I shrieked upstarting -
`Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! - quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted - nevermore!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Coffee and Conflict

So I'm drinking my morning coffee out of my "McCain for President" coffee mug. Rather ironic since I voted for Obama. I always get a kick out of that.

I don't typically discus politics. It's one of the most passionate subjects of conversation and tempers can flare. Not a good situation for someone like me who hates confrontation.

Not that I don't have strong opinions. I just don't like throwing kerosene on a fire, if you know what I mean. People can get so angry. Ranting, raving, accusing...almost to the point of insanity. It's like they've lost all ability to reason and to hold a rational, polite conversation.

What's up with that?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Great Movie Lines

So I'm reading the New York Times on the web and click on a story called: Longing for the Lines That Had Us at Hello.

Check it out:

Go ahead, make my day.
Life is like a box of chocolates.
Show me the money.
You talkin' to me?
Stupid is as stupid does.
Frankly, my dear. I don't give a damn.
I drink your milkshake.
May the Force be with you.
Round up the usual suspects.
Hast la vista, baby.
I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it anymore!
Fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy night.
Here's lookin' at you, kid.
We'll always have Paris.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

My New Desk Calendar

I'm a fan of Mary Englebreit. I absolutely adore her illustrations and inspirational messages. Her engagement calendars feature delightful artwork and a quote for each week of the year.

Every year is a different theme. In 2011 it's "Hold Tight" and all the illustrations show the characters hugging, holding, snuggling, dancing, etc. The inspirational message for my birthday week is "It takes a long time to grow an old friend." And it shows two girls hugging each other at a birthday party.

In the past I've enjoyed various desk calendar designs: Dilbert, The Far Side, Blue Dog...but I've always liked Mary Englebreit the best.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Mad Men

I'm a fan of Mad Men, AMC's Emmy-winning series about the fictional ad agency Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. It's one of the best shows about the advertising industry in a quite a while. I'm digging the mod 60s vibe of the sets and fashion, as well as the historical notes about real advertising interspersed during the "commercial" breaks. What's not to like?

Tragically, the season finale is next Sunday! In yesterday's show, the agency is "going under" due to loss of the Lucky Strike account. Dan Draper makes a bold move by submitting a full-page letter in the New York Times stating the agency has decided to take the moral ground and not advertise for tobacco companies. The partners had no clue and were furious with Dan for "euthanizing" the agency.


Dan's young daughter, Sally, is having emotional problems after her parents' divorce and is seeing a shrink.

The partners must contribute $100,000 each to keep the agency afloat. Pete Campbell (account executive) will only need to contribute $50,000. He has an argument with his pregnant wife and she compares his job to "a state room on the Titanic." Dan, in an act of generosity and to assuage his guilt, pays for Pete's contribution.

Dan runs into a friend named Midge, whom he discovers is an artist and a heroin addict. He buys one of her paintings, which inspired him to write the full-page letter to the New York Times called, "Why I'm Quitting Tobacco," the ad that caused all the brouhaha.

Due to cutbacks, people are getting fired right and left, but Peggy's job is safe.

Stay tuned...

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Comfortable Clothes Controversy

On Tim Gunn's page (Gunn Laws) of the September 2010 issue of Marie Claire, Tim talks about comfort. As always, he gets right to the point with no apologies. Something to think about. Here's the excerpt:

Some people think of dressing up or being polite as a burden. They think having to wear a tie or use the right fork or send a thank-you card is a kind of shackle. To these people I say: Getting out of bed is a shackle. If you feel that way, stay in it! Invest in a hospital gurney and wheel yourself around on it when you to go out. I get very impatient with this whole "comfort issue" with clothing. Yes, you don't feel as comfortable in clothes that fit as you do in your pajamas. That's a GOOD thing. You're navigating in a world where you need to have your wits about you. If you're in a lackadaisical comfort haze, you can't be engaged in the world as you need to be.
ME: I totally agree. If you watch makeover shows like "How Do I Look?" or "What Not to Wear," it seems the major roadblock to improving one's appearance is "comfort."  They want to cling to the ugly worn-out t-shirts, elastic-waste polyester pants, oversized sweatshirts and crocs, simply because they are "comfortable." Interestingly, clothes that fit and look good CAN be comfortable.