Category Archives: Holidays

Halloween 2009: Evil geniuses, dish soap and barely recognizable chunks of formerly orange gloop


America used to look exactly like this.

GateHouse — As is generally the case with most critical holidays, the important negotiations regarding my Halloween took place in a Target — specifically, in the throughway between the G.I. Joe toy aisle and, if I am not mistaken, Dish Soap, categories that pretty well illustrate my own journey through life thus far, come to think of it.

Over the previous weeks, the Little Man had whittled his list of costume ideas from approximately 3 million down to two: Spider-Man, which had been his costume for the previous two years (one that allowed him to save a great many neighborhood children from harm, despite bumping into all manner of wagons and mailboxes due to an unfortunate incompatibility between mask size and his face), and Train Engineer, which, as anyone who knows the Little Man will attest, is a costume of crucial importance, because the Little Man has very literally not discussed anything other than trains since April 2006.


. Toasters – Night Train


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Inside the Gloppy, Schmutzy World of Giant Pumpkin Growers



Island Packet — No one needs a 2,000-pound pumpkin. No one. Such massive pumpkins are absurd and unnatural and freaky-looking, and good news only if you’re part of the powerful international lobby Big Pie.

Regular pumpkins are weird enough looking, and that’s before you decapitate them and use your filthy, guilty hands to scoop out their gloppy insides, which — and I don’t care how old you are — never feels not like you’re removing parts of valuable, delicious brain from the corpse of an evil woodland creature of some kind (unless that’s just me, in which case, stop looking at me like that). I have never liked that part of pumpkin carving, even when I learned that you could achieve the same effect with a spoon and not get that slithery pumpkin schmutz under your fingernails.

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Wonderful Christmas Hell

Every year, to decorate the holiday season with heaping helpings of hideous terror, the elftastic Jason Hare and the lovely and talented Jefito furnish The 25 Days of Mellowmas, in which they – on purpose, mind you – absorb some of the season’s most bowel-clenching music, much of which has been recorded by Michael McDonald.

Because they are extremely friendly elves, they let me turn in this small piece on “Wonderful Christmastime,” which I have contended for years is the worst piece of music in the history of recorded human history, and which fellow blogger Py Korry remixed into a full nine-minutes of nogtastic horror. So to squeeze one last drop out of your fruit of holiday joy, head over to for a quick walk into the first circle of “Wonderful Christmas Hell.”

God bless us, every one.

A fat Santa is an awesome Santa

GateHouse - There are a lot of things wrong with Santa Claus — the tobacco addiction, the repeated breaking and entering, the vanishing for 364 consecutive days without explanation — but to that long and deplorable list ABC News has added the following: Santa Claus may be sending the wrong body message to children.

Indeed, in a video clip posted this week on, there stands a blow-dried twerp in a shiny suit, arguing with a disgustingly faked sense of concern that “the big belly will send a bad message to kids,” specifically the millions upon millions of kids who look at Santa Claus not as a magical elf who brings free presents every year, but as the standard for sheer physical magnificence and the primary reason they keep going to gym class every week.

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“Star Trek” caskets: The voyage home

Comes in Regular, Large and GHARRRDDAKAKH

GateHouse — If you are running out of gift ideas and time this Christmas season — and, let’s be honest, you are, I can see the cold desperation in your eyes — boy, do I have good news for you. But I must warn you that it’s gonna hinge a little bit on what your definition of “good news” is; I’m being honest when I say that when you buy someone a casket for Christmas and watch them unwrap it, it’s going to make things more than a little weird around the old family hearth for a good 15 minutes or so. (Also, it’s gonna take a ridiculous amount of wrapping paper; you may want to hit the Sam’s Club. Try and find a good hiding place for it, too: You can’t just hide a casket under the bed. Well, you can, but you need a super-tall bed, and still it would probably freak the bejesus out of the kids.)

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Giant Pumpkin Growing is a vast, largely unpatrolled hellscape of chaos, backstabbing and misinformation, much like everyplace else

If those straps break I am not cleaning this up.

GateHouse — If you are like me, you are about two glasses of wine away from sweet sleep right now, but you very likely did not realize the considerable amount of care, detail and — dare I say it, love — that goes into growing unnervingly large pumpkins for our Halloween enjoyment.

You did not know, for instance, that although it’s been a horrible year for a lot of Illinois, mostly Jay Cutler, it’s been a good year for the world of Giant Pumpkin Growing. According to a recent newspaper article I found online for free, 90 percent of pumpkins used for cooking in the United States are grown in Illinois, and we don’t fare too badly when it comes to jack-o’-lanterns neither. With these inarguable Facts on our side, I believe we can safely christen Illinois the Pumpkin Capital Of The Universe, and I challenge any pretenders to a full-on no-mercy pumpkin fight, which will probably be brief, as these pumpkins are heavy and hard to lift, and I have this weird twinge in my back that keeps making my left arm tingle. Also I bruise easily. Otherwise, it’s on, suckas.

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Happy All Saints Day! Your tiny Spider-Man costume is not welcome in this church

GateHouse — It turns out they don’t like Halloween at the boy’s day care.

This was probably to be expected: The boy attends a Christian day care, one that’s perfectly good and one we like reasonably well, although I must confess — having been brought up Catholic at all — to placing religion third on our list of reasons why we selected this particular day care, behind

  1. It had a spot open, and
  2. It was there.

If you have ever attempted to locate child care, you know what I’m talking about — there are easier things in the world to do than locate quality, convenient day care, things such as sewing the text of the Encyclopedia Brittanica on the back of a moving horse or baking a pie using nothing but mustard.

So last week, we got a notice from the day care, which says, in essence, that in lieu of Halloween they’ll be celebrating All Saints Day, which sounds very much made up but is, according to Wikipedia, legit, although not a holiday that they taught us about much in CCD. Actually, they might have taught us about it in CCD, but since this particular holiday does not involve candy or presents, I imagine that I tuned it right out and went back to wondering when I could have a doughnut.

Anyway, this costume change is going to be a problem for my son, who decided recently that he was going to be Spider-Man for Halloween, and by “recently” I mean “in the middle of April.” We have been hitting the Spider-Man thing hard. There was a period where the boy would spread out his arms and shout, “SPIDER-MAN!” at the top of his lungs pretty much anytime he found himself on a surface more than 6 inches above sea level. We have a Spider-Man costume; we have a Spider-Man mask; we have figured out a trick about how to drink from our juice bottle while wearing the Spider-Man mask (hint: it involves removing the mask); and we are fully ready to head out on Halloween night and fight crime on the streets, unless, of course, that crime is perpetrated by a small puppy or a Hulk, both of which scare the living daylights out of this particular Spider-Man (the Hulk thing he gets from Daddy, who to this day remains uneasy around Lou Ferrigno).

In place of costumes, the school is asking us to dress the child in the costume of something biblical. So we either have to convince a 3-year-old that a Moses costume is fun, or convince a school that Spider-Man appears somewhere in the gospels.

Now true, the phrase “Bible costume” is pretty open-ended — one friend suggested we send him as the devil, which totally fits the strict constructionist definition, and another as a pillar of salt, which would be really hard to pull off, especially when all the deer came over to lick my son.

But no matter our stance on religion, Halloween or Lou Ferrigno, I think we can all agree that, on the whole, Halloween costumes are way more fun than Bible costumes, and that’s how it’s going to continue to be unless they rewrite the New Testament to include the Pirates of the Caribbean or Darth Vader (I would like this to happen in the same book, but that’s just me). What we evidently can’t agree on is that there’s a giant gap between dressing your toddler up as a superhero or princess for a day and actively supporting sin. I mean, if I wanted to do that, I’d have him read Harry Potter.


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