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The REAL History of Halloween

You’ve heard it a million times:  Halloween was originally a Celtic celebration during the time of the harvest.  It then became Christianized, and turned into All Hallow’s Day–the feast that started the 3-day period of remembrance of the dead.  Blah blah blah Derrick, rapid commercialization, now we have Halloween as we know it.

Well, friends, I’m afraid you’ve been snowed by these popular myths yet again.  The TRUE story of Halloween revolved around a man named Cornelius Trickor: a 1st generation British immigrant, and Oklahoma farm owner in 1899.

Cornelius was a man, who like many others at the time, was chasing the American dream.  And all things considered, he was doing a damn fine job.  He had a 55-acre plot about 10 miles south of the hustle and bustle of Oklahoma City.  Corn, wheat, rye, cabbage, potatoes, tomatoes–you name it, Cornelius could grow it, and grow it well.  The owner of Booth’s General store in OK City would make the ten-mile hike twice a week so he could have the honor of stocking his shelves with Trickor’s produce, not to mention the delectable jellies and preserves that Mrs. Trickor canned with the extra fruits they grew.

The Trickor family had it made.  Cornelius’ two young sons were well read, well fed, and well-versed in how to cultivate crops in the loamy Oklahoma soil.  His wife was the best baker, seamstress, and canner within 50 miles, and Cornelius had made a name for himself with his impeccable fruits and vegetables.

In the late spring of 1902, a family called the Hallows purchased a 20-acre plot that butted up against the Trickor farm on the western side.  Caroline Trickor, Cornelius’ wife, was beside herself with excitement.  She thought having another family around would certainly do everyone some good.  She whipped up her best strawberry rhubarb pie and marched straight over to the Hallow’s house.  It was then that she first realized that something may have been wrong about the Hallow family.  First, they didn’t have a lick of farming equipment.  Not even so much as a hand plow.  How in the heck were they going to manage a farm in Oklahoma with no tools?  But, she put it out of her mind.  The Hallows seemed nice enough anyway.

There was Robert Hallow, who always insisted on being called Bob.  He seemed a bit rotund to be a farmer.  Then there was his wife, Evelyn. She had deep-set eyes, a flush, pock-marked face, and a bulbous nose.  She reminded Caroline of the drunkards who used to whistle at her outside of the tavern when she’d go into town to sell her wares.  Then there were the 2 Hallow boys.  Couldn’t have been a day over 14, and they were both solid as thoroughbred horses–the kind of physique that only comes with plenty of heavy lifting.  Caroline couldn’t imagine how such young boys could’ve developed so quickly.

It would only be a few days before the Trickor family discovered that the Hallows were not farmers at all.  Bob was an oil prospector, who’d just come up from Texas after striking a well.  Paid him pretty well, too, apparently.  He was able to pay the local boys to build him a real nice farmhouse in no time at all.  In fact, by the time summer rolled around, the Hallows had an oil derrick parked on their front lawn.  It was right around the solstice when Cornelius peered out the window to see Bob Hallow walking up to his house, seemingly with a purpose.

Bob offered to buy the Trickors’ land for 2000 dollars.  Caroline almost had to jump out of her chair to stop Cornelius from immediately accepting the offer.  After all, Bob’s offer was for about twice as much money as they made from the farm the previous year.  But with some gentle persuasion, Caroline helped her husband realize that this farm represented the life they built together, and that throwing his legacy away for 2000 dollars is about the stupidest thing a man could do.

Hallow stormed out of the house in a huff.  Not once had he ever been rejected when seeking to buy property for prospecting.  Only this time he wasn’t prospecting.  He just knew that there was a large oil field just under the roots of the Trickor family’s crops.  He had to have that property, but he knew that the Trickors wouldn’t sell.  Bob became blind with fury.  Poor Evelyn tried to keep him from doing something irrational, but that just made her the target of his ire.  Not being able to stand to see her husband so upset, Evelyn decided that she would poison the Trickors’ water well–then her husband could have the property he so wanted.

Unfortunately for Eve Hallow, Caroline Trickor was watching from her window, and witnessed Mrs. Hallow pour a bucket of some substance into the well.  After Eve left, Caroline went to the well, and could faintly smell spirits of ether, a tincture of cannabis, and a tincture of opium.  She realized that she must tell her husband immediately.

Cornelius, surprisingly enough, wasn’t angered by the news at all.  In fact, Caroline could see a glint of happiness in his eyes that she had noticed was missing since he had rejected Bob’s offer.  The next morning, Cornelius instructed his boys to stay inside, and not to make themselves at all visible to the Hallow family.  That afternoon, Cornelius walked over to bring the Hallow family the bad news:  The Trickor boys were dead, apparently died in their sleep of natural causes.  Cornelius informed Bob that he’d be burying his boys the day after tomorrow, and that they’d be moving back east within two weeks’ time.   Bob offered his condolences.

When Cornelius returned home, he told his sons that they would be “haunting” the Hallow household that evening.  They smothered dirty bed linens with animal leavings and wore them around their bodies.  They painted their faces pitch black with charcoal from their mother’s wood stove.  And during the witching hour, The Trickor boys made their way to the Hallow house.  When they arrived, they opened cupboards, slammed doors, and stomped the floorboards.   Evelyn Hallow was the first to poke her head from the bedroom.  When she saw the blackened faces of the Trickor boys illuminated by the moonlight, she was struck with horror.  She ran back into the bedroom and hid.

Moments later, Bob Hallow emerged, wielding a candlestick for his weapon.  The young Trickors danced around him and told to him the tale of his wife’s misdoings.  Bob was apologetic, and desperate not to have these apparitions put an end to his life.  So he asked them what they would take as reparations for the damage his wife had caused.   The young boys, not knowing what to ask for, demanded that he hand over his food supply, especially his supply of sweets.  They returned to the Trickor house triumphant, and with armfuls of food.

The very next morning, Bob came to the door of the Trickor house with a solemn expression on his face.  When Cornelius opened the door, Bob explained everything:  his wife poisoned the well, which killed the Trickor boys, who haunted Bob, which led him to come confess.  Cornelius couldn’t help but to then confess his own bad deed–sending his sons to “haunt” the Hallow family.  The two men embraced, each walking away from the situation much richer in spirit than he had ever been before.

Many years later, Cornelius would write a book on the topic of neighborliness entitled “The Trickor Treatise.”  Which, as I’m sure you know, is the basis for modern Halloween.  You send your children to the house of neighbors you don’t know very well, asking for candy, with the implication being that you trust your neighbor enough not to poison your children.  It is the foundation of community building in the modern world.  And as for Evelyn Hallow; she’s the reason why we send our kids out dressed as ghosts.  When I asked my parents when I was younger, “Why do we dress up for Halloween?”  They’d always respond, “It’s all Hallow’s Eve.”  Now I get it.

 

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And Now, a Word from our Sponsors…

Well, loyal readers, I’m sorry it has come to this, but I’ve had to sell some advertising on my blog.  I really thought the revenue stream associated with blogging was a lot bigger.  But, apparently pulling 51 unique hits per post just isn’t very attractive to most advertisers, so I kinda had to scrape the bottom of the barrel–to be frank, a lot of them are radio ads for small local businesses.

First and foremost, a spot from a local alehouse and greasy spoon in Wisconsin:

Next, we have a guy who plays and reviews indie video games, without ever showing you the game.  He calls his show “You Heard it First,” and it’s dedicated to giving you an audible look at video games.  Call me Debbie Downer, but I don’t know if this one’s gonna work out.

And finally, some guy payed me 50 bucks to promote his country-western cover album, “Left is Right, and That ain’t Bad.”  His name is Andrew Jackson, and here’s a clip of one of his… interesting country covers.

Now that I’ve got some sponsor money, who knows what I can accomplish!!

Reducing the Deficit

I’m fairly certain I’ve been an old man my entire life.

I can remember, at about 12 years old, waiting in line with my friends to ride a roller coaster at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia. As they bragged about how they were totally going to flick off the camera, I smiled and drifted off into my own little world. I stared at each bolt, rivet, and weld that held the track in place. I wondered exactly how long it takes to build one of these monsters, and how often someone walks the length of the track to inspect every individual bolt. How do they get up there? My friends and I were both equally fascinated by roller coasters, but for very different reasons. They liked the feeling of their organs floating in a loop–I liked to think about the order form for replacement parts for the chain lift. Do you think they used Anheuser-Busch letterhead?

That’s me. I’ve always had a tough time appreciating things at face value, and instead look much deeper to find what drives those things. Learning how the world works is my only true hobby, and all of my other pseudo-hobbies exist to serve it. It’s wonderful, but it has its downsides.

Very few people possess the logistician-colored goggles through which I see the world. Most don’t care how their hamburger became a hamburger, or what the profit margin is on a particular item at their favorite restaurant. This must be a great feeling, to not be burdened by the painstaking details of mundanity. The second I walk into an Applebee’s, I’m thinking about utility bills, the turf war that’s going on between the cooks and the waitstaff, and whether this is a franchise or a corporate-owned restaurant. I wonder if there’s a warehouse somewhere filled with license plates and old tobacco advertisements that is stocked by an army of Applebee’s pickers, or if there’s a sweatshop in Shanghai pumping out replicas. Of course, I never let on to anyone what I’m thinking in those moments, because it’s weird and nerdy for me to think about such things while on a social outing.

Indeed, my little affliction is the cause of much strife. It’s not always a good thing when you’re trying to enjoy a nice film with your family, and you can’t help but point out that the underlying narrative of Toy Story 3 is a metaphor for the Holocaust (it is! watch it again and think Dachau). Likewise, when you dissect every editing decision made in a television show, and the impact a writer or director was trying to achieve in making that edit, it sort of spoils Glee when everyone else just wants to enjoy the ultra-positive outlook and fun musical numbers. And maybe sometimes you get lost in the world’s most boring video game–a Farming simulator where you basically drive a tractor up and down rows of crops, and then wait until the next harvest grows–and you do it because you’re immersing yourself into a world with which you’re unfamiliar. Perhaps you are fascinated by the concept of managing the margins on your crops, and competing with other local farmers. I mean, that’s what did it for me, at least.

Turns out, modern psychology views my personality quirks very differently than I do. My psychologist recently summed up my personality quirks in 3 words: Attention Deficit Disorder. Little did I know, my penchant for immersion, my procrastination, forgetfulness, and persistent over-analysis of life can be explained by a 3 letter acronym. This was a paradigm-altering diagnosis for me–it explained why I struggled through high school, despite being one of the smarter kids in my graduating class (I’d constantly receive comments like this one, next to my D+ grades: “Incredibly smart, if he just applied himself, his future would be limitless”). It also seems to explain the former and current addictions of mine: marijuana, soda pop, junk food, alcohol, cigarettes. These were apparently all my sub-conscious attempts to mitigate my deficit of attention. (To be clear, the marijuana was gone as soon as I entered the military, and the soda pop remains the only real factor on this list, for those of you who may be keeping score). In fact, I didn’t even believe that ADD was a real thing until I took a hard, critical look at my past and present.

It was only then that I realized that I’m just as motivated as any individual I know–maybe even more so. I possess the talent to match my aspirations, but my own chemical make-up is restraining me from chasing those aspirations. Perhaps this post is a desperate, last-ditch attempt at explaining my own shortcomings. That is a legitimate possibility. But since I’ve never denied or been ashamed of my personality flaws, I doubt that my psyche is playing tricks on me. The more realistic scenario is that my therapist was right in calling me “the easiest ADD diagnosis” he’s ever had. Regardless, time will tell whether I’m just a lazy daydreaming slacker, or an artist who’s yet to shed his psychological baggage. I’ve officially begun cognitive behavioral therapy for ADD, and will begin taking medication on October 21st. In the mean time, you get posts like this one.

The Tragedy of Renee

Being that the only language I speak is comprised of one-half ‘pedantic American,’ and one-half ‘insultingly bad impression of Shakespearean English,’ I often find popular music incredibly hard to understand.  Whether it’s country music or French robot songs, I just don’t seem to understand the lyrics.  Luckily for me, I found a translation service that meets my needs!  Take this song for example, a hip-hop hit of the mid 90s:

It sounds amazing right?  Now if only I could understand what exactly the song is about!  Thanks to Google translate’s wonderful array of languages, I can now understand the tragic tale of Renee.  See if you can follow along:

Allow me to regale you with the tale of my courtship of a beautiful maiden named Renee.  I first laid eyes upon her whilst returning home from my daily university studies.  She was walking to hire a horse and buggy.  I was quite taken by her beauty, so I approached her and spake, “Pardon me madam, but may I have the pleasure of learning your name?”

“Renee,” she replied with a dismissive smile.

Feeling emboldened, I spoke again, “Madam, I have much I’d like to share with you.  May I escort you to your stagecoach?”

“If it be your pleasure, sir,” she responded.

We began to speak of idle things as we strode towards the buggy depot.  Along the way I purchased 2 sausages and some tea for us to share.  While her impeccable fashion sense and sheer beauty entranced me, I felt I needed to test our mental and emotional compatibility.  Thus, I began steering our conversation into new territory.

She spake of her desire to become a barrister.  To phrase it differently, she studied the laws of the land.  I began to tell her of my desire to become a great turner-of-phrase, when suddenly, while she reached for a copper to pay the buggy driver, Renee’s smoking papers fell out of her hand bag.

Embarrassed, she covered her mouth with a bejeweled hand.  I quelled her embarrassment swiftly, “Oh m’lady, please don’t blush.   I am also a lover of nature’s herbs.  Yet, I use the tobacco leaf wrapper.”

“I never use such leaves, as I am told they are for miscreants and vagabonds,” she replied.

“Oh, no madam.  Their effect endures much longer than with those pesky smoking papers.  Perhaps some time in the future I may demonstrate for you their virtues.”

Alas, we shared a buggy.  Every inch of her appearance was meticulously crafted to evoke her beauty.  Yes, in fact, from her hair to her fingernails, Renee was perfect.  Her neck was adorned with a string of pearls—a gift from her dear mother.

Our carriage arrived at twilight, as the sun fadeth in the west.  She was worried that her hounds had not been fed, so we detoured to the butchery.

We arrived at the manor, and lit some torches to fight away the shadows of dusk.  I took notice of the beauty of her home and its amenity.  It truly spoke to her affluence in an otherwise destitute land.

“Do as you wish, sire,” she called to me.   “I must tend to the hounds.”

“Very well, m’lady.  I will show you the finer points of aromatic herb wrapped with tobacco leaf!”

Moments later, she returned wearing naught but a tunic and skirt.  I knew then that she was a younger, innocent lady.  We sat on the fainting couch, smoking herbs, then moved to the balcony to ponder the rolling landscape.  We fell into each other’s arms.  My discretion as a gentleman precludes me from speaking further on that matter.

I had found the maiden who would be mine.  We smoked herbs and ate decadently through the night.  We danced and revealed our darkest secrets.  I could not have been happier.

The following morn, I awoke to a note left by my sweet lady.  It read:

“Sire, I had to attend to some matters, I shall return before the sun sets.”

Having matters of my own to handle, I left a missive that included my home address, so that we could again rendezvous.  I donned my traveling robes and smoked my morning herbs before departing.

In the afternoon, I received a couriered message.  It contained a love message from m’lady.  I replied in kind.

Our love caught fire in the following fortnight.  I was reeling from romantic dinners with m’lady, as well as partaking in wine and herb with my mistresses.  While I have never fallen in love, I still found that throughout my travels, my mind and heart yearned for sweet Renee.

One day, while enjoying some time with my hunt club brethren, I received a carrier pigeon on Renee’s stationery, beckoning me to her manor.  To my surprise, upon my arrival I find only her poor mother.

“Renee was attacked.  The doctors have taken her to be treated.”

I hopped aboard an express buggy, and made all haste to the infirmary.  I wondered what fate had befallen m’lady.  Without regard for safety or buggy regulation, I wildly puffed at my herbed cigar while careening through the village square.

Alas, by the time I reached the infirmary, Renee was no more.

“Sire, Renee has shuffled off this mortal coil,” a doctor said.

Now I perform a wine-pouring rite of mourning for my sweet Renee.  As is customary for men of my background, I must shed my tears and mourn through prose and poem:

———————————————

“Tragic Love is the only love for people of our station,

With each passing day I ponder wherefore she was taken,

I mourn the loss of my sweet serf Queen every day,

Tip your cups for Renee.”

The Two Princes Venn Diagram…

I find myself in this awkward position all the time:  As a beautiful princess, I have two gentleman callers who desire my affection.  How in the heck do I decide which prince I’ll take as my lover?!  Luckily, long ago, in a far away place known as the 90s, a song was written exactly to help people in situations like this!  Let’s take a look:

Darn it!  Now I’m even more confused!  This princess needs to look at some solid metrics.  Luckily, for situations just like this one, I’ve got the Two Princes Venn Diagram!

2Princes

But which one is cuter??

Justice 4 Nobody

I’m very glad that I don’t have a personal Facebook page right now. I was absolutely blindsided by the upheaval caused by the Zimmerman verdict. It seems as if my liberal brethren are shocked, awestricken, and completely enraged by the court’s decision.

Before I officially begin my tirade, allow me to present my liberal résumé: I’m for increased gun regulation, pro-choice, pro-immigration reform, pro drug legalization, anti-fracking, etc… That should serve well enough to let you know where I stand generally.

All that said, I’ve been lucky (or unlucky) enough to have been subjected to minute by minute coverage of the George Zimmerman trial since it began a few weeks ago (thanks, office buddies). I’ve seen testimony from almost all of the witnesses in the case, as well as all of the 911 calls, video re-enactments, and other recorded statements from the trial. In this liberal’s opinion, the jury got the verdict absolutely correct.

In our court system, you are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. With ALL of the forensic evidence indicating that Trayvon Martin was on top of George Zimmerman when he was shot, that fact alone should be enough for any jury to be convinced that there is a very reasonable doubt that the crime committed was murder, as opposed to an act of self defense. Not to mention the dozen or so other witnesses and pieces of evidence that corroborated Zimmerman’s account of what happened.

Another issue is the incredibly volatile issue of race. The media has largely portrayed Zimmerman (actually of mixed descent) as the white aggressor, while barely paying lip service to his Afro-Peruvian roots. In fact, George Zimmerman was one of the very few non-black people to protest the beating of a homeless black guy by a Sanford police officer–he even appealed to a local chapter of the NAACP for help in the matter, who told him they had scant few resources and could not help the cause.

With all of the facts at hand, we can see that Zimmerman wasn’t a racist, and also that Trayvon Martin didn’t deserve to die. However, our law allows a human being to kill another human being if he feels as if his life has been endangered. All you must prove to a court is that you had a reasonable fear that you may die or be seriously injured. Can you ask anything more of our justice system? Zimmerman is not a hate-fueled murderous bigot–that should be obvious to anyone who’s examined the majority of the evidence.

As I’ve said in a previous post, this is an incredible tragedy. Trayvon Martin’s family has suffered, and will for as long as they live. George Zimmerman has killed a young man, and he has to live with that for the rest of his life. Let’s have some compassion for everyone involved, and leave this topic alone. Let everyone go about their lives and actually heal from this tragedy, not drag it out with protests, spurious DoJ investigations, and civil law suits.

Nobody wins in this situation.

 

 

 

A Brief Pause

As some of you may have noticed, I’ve been absent from this blog for over a month.  I’ve not forgotten about you, my precious friends.  I’ve been moving from hotel to hotel with my family, and have had limited access to the internet and comfortable places to write.

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Alas, I am back into a normal domicile, and regular posting should resume shortly, but probably only 3 or 4 times a month.  Right now, my main creative focus is elsewhere, but I do plan to keep up with this blog and Fat Guys vs. Gym regularly.  I can’t wait to share some of what I’ve been working on during my hiatus!