Halloween, 2019

“Masaya Halloween” or “Happy Holloween!!!” in Tagalog spoken in various forms throughout the Philippines.

This week, I was reminiscing about past Halloweens and how much the holiday has changed. But then thinking about it, Halloween has alway been about change. After all, what nimrod would be the same ghost or ghoul for two Halloweens in a row! As we aged, our taste in costumes changed as do our “treats. When I was a something like a 3 ft tall Davey Crocket, most of the treats we got were hand made by Moms. Popcorn balls or Candied Apples wrapped in cellophane (before it became Glad Wrap) or even wax paper with a rubber band around it were my favorites. Homemade Tollhouse or Peanut Butter cookies were high on my list too. Some moms even made real candy. They would make almond or peanut and chocolate clusters that usually melted some in our bags before we returned to our south Florida homes. Slowly, store bought treats took over but even they were different than today. We got Peanut Butter Logs, Turkish taffy (my little bro lost one of his baby teeth in one!), Sugar Daddies and Babies, Mary Janes and Bazooka Bubble Gum with the comic inside. Sometimes people just threw an hand-full of M&Ms, Sweet Tarts or other loose candies into your bag. Fresh fruit and pennies or nickels were sometimes handed out too. Then stories and rumors came out about razor blades or poisons that scared our parents. All the home made treats just disappeared one year. I think the world was a little sadder then. Kids didn’t get to see their Moms creating what appeared to be a million pounds of stuff we loved and secretly hoping less kids would come so there would be more for us afterwards. My kids had to agonize watching their mom sort through the treats and disposing of anything that could have been tampered with. Choosing the blocks to walk down was also important. Trying to remember which house handed out the stuff you loved the best and wondering what the next house would bring. Now it seems its which houses are handing out cute little bags of Gummies or M&M and which ones are giving this pint-sized Twix, Butterfingers or Snickers bars. Kids never Trick or Treat alone any more. A mom or dad might herd a group of kids around but to me that would seem to make the whole thing less scary. No matter how much trouble the houses went to make a scary entrance, our kids and grandkids can’t get as scared as we did because they know Mom or Dad won’t let the Monsters behind to Jack-O-Lanterns get us. Like I said, Halloween is all about change. Being a practicing geezer, I get to stay at home and hand out the candies to the little creatures that ring our doorbell. I look forward to it each year. Happy Halloween!

This week I learned some stuff:
• I feel like my back yard is naked! Without the thick 40’ tall green and yellow bamboo wall shading and separating our little place from the rest of the world anymore, it just so sunlight bright and hot. It’s like seeing my clean shaven face after 25 years with a moustache! I guess this is going to take some getting used to.
• October 31st is the 304th day of the year (only 55 days till Christmas!). On this day in 1864 Nevada was admitted to the union; On this day in 1913, The Lincoln Highway, the first cross continental automobile road from Times Square. NY to Lincoln Park, San Francisco was dedicated; After 14 years of work, and due to a lack of funding to complete the images to the waist, Mount Rushmore is deemed completed in 1941;On that same day, the USS Ruben James became the first US Ship sunk in WWII, 100 American sailors perished in the waters near Iceland after a German U-boat torpedoed the Ruben James;; In 1968 President Lyndon B. Johnson orders a complete cessation of “all air, naval, and artillery bombardment” of North Vietnam, effective the next day; On this day in 1984, Indian Prime Minister, Indira Ghandi was assassinated by two Sikh security guards causing riots around the country, around 3,000 Sikhs were killed; A federal grand jury in Houston, Texas indicts former Enron chief financial officer Andrew Fastow in 2002; In 2011 Earth population of humans exceeds 7 billion; On this day in 1632 Dutch Painter Johnnes Vermeer was born; Dale Evans, American singer- songwriter, actress and Mrs. Roy Rogers is born in 1912; Jane Pauly was born in 1950; Somewhere in Georgia, the world is made a bit brighter by the arrival of Sarah Rogers-Happy Birthday, Sarah!; and we lost John Houseman, one of my favorite American actors, as well as producer and screenwriter on Halloween, 1988.

Website Update:
• A “New” Vocabulary Quiz!!! YEAH!!! This Halloween oriented one should be a breeze.
• Week 2 for our “New” Music Trivia Quiz !!
• This week I cooked a couple of new things. One dish sounded really good when I read it in the NY Times Cooking – French Onion Mac and Cheese! It was good but my family prefers my Mac and Cheese and French Onion Soup. So I have tweaked it some more and next time it should be better. I am not going to put it on the site till I am sure it is worthy. I also cooked a new and interesting pasta dish with Cannelli Beans and Beurre Blanc. The challenge for this one was that it was a recipe sized for two servings so adjusting the quantities to feed 5-6 can be tricky. As with the FM&C, it was good but not good enough for your palates yet.

Writing, Ceramics and Painting Update:
• I was going to do a cutesy little halloween skull but I got frustrated and tossed it. So I decided to go back to square on with making a pentagon box with lid that the beginners are doing. We will see. The Street Sign should go into bisque this week but I honestly have no idea how it might turn out. The shift to Mission Gold paints has been harder than I anticipated. Out of the last 5 paintings that I have done, I have liked 1, sort of. My instructor suggests I slow everything down and spend 2-3 weeks on a painting.
• Grandpa Stories is still not re-published.

• Vasili Alexandrovich Arkhipov. Do you recognize the name? I didn’t. Archipov was the Russian naval officer who, on October 27th 1962, refused his Captain’s and EX’s order to fire a nuclear torpedo at an American aircraft carrier — and by doing so, averted the probability of thermo-nuclear destruction across the planet. I remember hearing the Air Raid Sirens from the top of the Coliseum on Douglas Rd. I was 10 year old in a class practicing our nuclear fallout drills in Merrick Demonstration School on Zamora Ave. The next year we changed schools to Coral Gables Elementary. After the Cuban Missle Crisis, it seemed like a whole new life had begun until November, when JFK was shot. We all owe our lives and those of our future generations to Vasili. He passed away in 1999 after a distinguished career in the Russian navy.
• Every year, I try to build, cook or make something for every one for Christmas. This year is a bigger challenge than previous ones as I will be visiting my son and his family in Texas for the holidays. I have decided on what to make and am now working on the logistics of getting it done before we depart on the 17th. I am afraid that some of my holiday specific items may not be available until after Thanksgiving.

Music Update:

This week, I have created another fairly eclectic collection of song samples that I think celebrate life in a grand way!

Go to this week’s UJT Radio program.
• Joni Mitchell – Free Man In Paris — This comes from her “Court and Spark” album,”released in 1974. I think this is the album that elevated her to master singer songwriter. There is something special about our girl, Joni and she just lays it all out for us on that record.
• Love — Always See Your Face — This band was one of the very best unheard of bands in the 1960s and early 1970s. My friend Duane Tannenbaum found them for us. This one comes from their 1969 release, “Four Sail”.
• Carl Verheyen Band — Floydian Slip — One seriously gifted musician. My buddy George Gomez turned me on to Carl. Thanks George!
• Frank Sinatra – Luck Be a Lady – From his most recent “best of” album “Nothing But the Best (Remastered)” released in 2013, this song came from the famous musical play and film from the 1950s, “Guys and Dolls”.
• Balmorhea — Windansea — Just a beautiful instrumental by this very eclectic band. This one is from their “Rivers Arms (Deluxe Edition)” album released in 2012.
• Vance Joy — Wasted Time — This song comes from his amazing, “Dream Your Life Away” album released in 2014. He is just a great singer songwriter.
• Phoebe Snow — Easy Street (B side of single) — From her first album “Phoebe Snow” released in 1974. This soulful songwriter had this wonderful tone and phrasing in her music, that it just kind pulled you into that moment with her.

That’s it… Do the best you can;  Laugh every chance you get;  And always remember …  The best is yet to come!  As always, thank you for being my friend!