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(Written Oct.'98, but if you're seeing it for the first time, it's new to you)

It's the Fall, y'all!
It's always a little depressing heading into the winter. Every day gets a little colder, it's dark when I head out the door for work in the morning, and dark when I leave work to head home.

Here's an Andre1998 safety tip. I am no "Fire Marshal Bill", and I know it sounds corny to say this, but really, when was the last time you changed your smoke alarm batteries? Most smoke alarms cost less than ten dollars, but they are the earliest warning of a fire. Smoke can take your life without fire ever getting near you. If you are sleeping when a fire starts, it's your only hope. Every time you adjust your clocks at daylight savings time in the spring and in the return to standard time this month, you should change the battery in all your smoke alarms. My alarm goes off every time I try to stir-fry. It's a pain in the neck, but I know its working. Even if you turn everything off before you go to bed, a fire could spring up out of an electrical wire. The only thing worse than being that person on the TV News shivering out in the cold wrapped in a blanket, is being the one who didn't make it out. Don't wait for the low battery warning "beep". Change the batteries twice a year, its worth it. It's also worth it to get a Carbon Monoxide Detector. If you have gas appliances, Central heating/air, a malfunction could endanger your family. It's like buckling your seatbelts: you don't really think about it, you hope you never need it, but when you do need it, you need it BAD, and it's too late then. I just thought I'd mention that.
It's been five years, but I still can't get used to life out here in the suburbs. At this time of year, our daily existence is ruled by leaves. Damn trees!! If they aren't falling on your house in storms, (knock on wood) they serve as a home for that suburban rat, the squirrel. Unlike the real rat, these little f**kers have half a brain, and they use it to invade anything you don't have tied down.

Halloween is one of those occasions that, like most of the rest, have a contemporary usage that has little or nothing to do with it's origins. Some try to relate Halloween to mystery and magic, but the only magic it's good for is
making your ducets ghost. It'll be a mystery to you where it went.
It should be moved off the actual All Hallows Eve to a Saturday in the general vicinity of the 31st. It happens to be on a Saturday this year, and thats good.The really small kids have to come out so early, that on weekdays, half the neighbors are not even home from work in time to hand out the loot. It would also be good to miss the 31st, because this celebration of all that is sinister and evil is a little troubling. It is fine for the small kids to dress up and collect candy door to door. Its the other meaning of Halloween. In many cultures, it is a remembrance of our deceased love ones. For those who dabble in the "occult", and I mean the serious few, not the slackers who follow Marilyn Manson because its cool to wear black, pierce every orifice and freak out your parents. Back in the day, we had the late jazz artist Noel Pointer give a concert at our college on Halloween evening, and he spoke about the meaning. It's the first time I really thought about the real significance. He talked about the history, about his faith and his upbringing that excluded a celebration of the date. We were listening to him, mostly just thinking, "just play something, man!" We have a cozy, fun and games view of the sinister side of the supernatural. It's OK to have fun, just respect the meaning. If we believe in the existence of holy spirits on high, certainly we must know its no Freaknik party going on way, way downstairs.

I wake up sometimes in the middle of the night, you know, when you think you heard something move downstairs, and I wonder what the hell would I do if somebody was down there. Since I have ADT, if the alarm did not go off, the noise would have to come outside, or from a "something". "What was that? Did the floor creak?" If you really concentrate, you can hear all kinds of noises that are not even there. I can't say I completely disbelieve a house could be haunted, but if there's any restless spirits in my place, they better leave my Ben and Jerry's "Wavy Gravy" alone in the fridge. The old MC Hammer CDs they can take.
That feeling of impending danger, the helplessness of being in a dark, lonely, remote place, it's just entertaining to get a sense of it, and know that anything could JUMP out at you at any second. Your heart beats faster, you tense up, trying to prepare yourself for the exact moment you think the big kill is coming. It was fun to take a date to movies like that so she would cling to me all scared. I could put one arm around her and play the strong man type, while my other hand was crushing the hell out of some Goobers. Sounds like fun? Well that was all well and good until the old movie formula got stale and the special effects became much more realistic. We seem to love the portrayal of evil as a society. Show a breast in a movie, its likely to get an "R" rating. Killing someone is as common as a one liner is in a sitcom. We expect almost any burst of anger between two people to produce a gunfight, and when the "blood" spews, we don't even bat an eye. The incoming dollars demand that Hollywood give us more intensely violent images in our movies and music.
You can see an axe splitting skulls, or a throat being cut and they linger on the details of blood and guts. The timing also became different. The game of expecting the big scare became very tricky. Hollywood kept giving you the set up, then not delivering, letting you relax and then BAM ! It's just fantasy. We all know that. But it makes an impression. It de-sensitizes. Kids are shooting and stabbing each other in record numbers, and its not just the parents' fault. If the same media that advertises cars or Pepsi, and wants to entice you to want it, to go get it, to think its so cool to do this or that, it has to be logical to expect some effect to be sinking in to the child, who is twenty times more perceptive, and has twenty times more media bombarding them then his parents did at his age.

Well, enough preaching. On a lighter note, this is one of the most embarrassing moments I ever had happen on a date to a "scary" movie.
When it was out, I took a date to see the movie ALIEN. (Yes, the first one, I'm that old...shut up and keep reading) It was one of the first movies I had seen that took the Sci-Fi/horror combo movie to a more brainy level, and our college crowd jammed in the local theater one weekend. The film spent a good amount of the beginning establishing the techno-scientific angle, personalities of the crew, yada yada, until the "alien" punched its way into the first crewman's face. Alright, that took everybody by surprise. They let you see very little of the creature itself, and the suspense built up as it kept changing form every time. It was an exceptionally ugly alien, if you've seen it (you non-cave dwellers) you know what I mean. But the scene that got me was when Tom Skerritt's character was climbing through the ship's vents with the flame thrower. Sigorney Weaver, as Ridley was yelling over the radio for him to run, and he jumps down to a section and shines the flame one way, sees nothing. He turned it the other way, and BAM ! Everybody in the packed theater let out a yell. I did too. The embarrassing part was it wasn't a manly "Hey!" or "Whoa!" That would have been fine. No, it was a girlie "EEEK!" like Cindy Brady or something. To this day, I don't know where that sound came from. Haven't made it before or since. It was just delayed enough to really stand out from the crowd noise. People around us started laughing at it, and I did my best to look around and play it off like it wasn't me. You never know how a date was going to end, but I will always think that "Men on Film" type scream derailed the possiblities for later that evening, and for future dates with that lady. To the men: if you are taking her to a flick like that, see it first yourself, or ask somebody. I'm only trying to help you out.

Here's a decent link that has a lot of other links to topics that surround the meaning of Halloween.



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