The Southern Humorists Present ...
October 2004 is Scared Silly Month!
For some odd reason, all kinds of creepy things come out this month. There's haints, ghosts, boogers, presidential candidates and all other sorts of scary things. So sit back, grab a sweet tea and a sweetheart to hug and see what scares the Southern Humorists. Thanks for readin', y'all!
Discussion on What Funeral Food to Bring to Uncle Buford's Wake | Cletus on Halloween | The Ultimate Urban Legend | That Ol' Casino Spirit: Halloween on the Hill | An American Redneck in London | Gertie's List of 30 Fun Things to do on Halloween | Frightened Eyes | How Do You Know It's Halloween? | Halcyon Halloweens | Triggertree Y'all! | "They Don't Scare Girls, Do They?" |
Southern Humorists Discuss What Funeral Food to Bring to Uncle Buford's Wake
Angela Gillaspie, "Momma always said that it was bad taste to bring anything store-bought. Oh and for you non-Southerners that can't figure out why anyone in their right mind would bring food to a funeral ... it's a Southern Thang. We equate comfort to food. When someone has a need, no matter if it's a new roof, plumbing repair, or an illness, food will always come first and then the aid will come next. Other foods that would be in bad taste are smiley face cookies and a graveyard cake with little 'RIP' tombstones."
Carrie English, "Better than sex cake?"
Phil Jones, "There's no such thing."
Angela Gillaspie, "Well, that depends on you. Here are two recipes to try:"
Angela's 2nd Only to Sex Dessert
1 cup flour
1 stick butter or margarine
1 cup broken pecans or walnuts
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 (8-ounce) container Non-dairy whipped topping
1 cup powdered sugar
1 (4-serving size) package instant chocolate pudding
1 (4-serving size) package instant vanilla pudding
3 cups milk
Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare crust by combining all ingredients and pressing into a 9x13-inch pan. Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes. Mix cream cheese, half of Non-dairy whipped topping, and powdered sugar. Spread cream cheese mixture over cooled crust. Mix chocolate and vanilla puddings with the milk (don't cook it!) and spread over cheese layer. Cover with the rest of the Non-dairy whipped topping. Refrigerate.
Meme's Chocolate Chip (Better Than Sex) Cake
This is my Meme's recipe; she would get so embarrassed when we called this cake "Sex Cake" although, I wouldn't recommend calling it "Sex Cake" at a prayer meeting, you know.
1 box yellow cake mix
1 (4-serving size) vanilla instant pudding
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup water
1 cup sour cream
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans
1 bar German chocolate, shaved (use a potato peeler!)
3/4 cup margarine
1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1 box powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped pecans, if desired
Preheat oven to 350°. For cake, combine first 6 ingredients and beat until smooth. Fold in remaining ingredients, reserving enough shaved chocolate for garnish. Pour into greased 9x12-inch pan and bake 45 minutes. Cool. For icing, combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly. Spread on top of cooled cake and sprinkle with shaved chocolate. Refrigerate.
Ben Baker, "Sex Cake ingredients 1 genius-level IQ 6'5" redheaded gal of, say, 165 pounds with a thing for short fat redneck newspaper editors. 1 cake, whatever kind, buy it whever you want. Combine ingredients by having gal cut a slice of cake. Throw remaining cake and slice of in the sink. Seriously. I mean who'd need food right then?"
Carrie English, "I have two sex cake recipes."
Carrie's Better than the Best Sex Cake recipe
1 prepared german chocolate cake
1 jar fudge topping- (there is a local chef here that makes the most awesome fudge topping- $7 a jar!)
1 jar carmel topping- (ditto with the chef again)
1/2 can of condensed milk
6-12 Heath bars depending on your mood
1 tub of cool whip- NO LITE
Make holes in the entire cake with the end of a wooden spoon. Pour fudge first, then carmel, then the condensed milk. Sprinkle about 3 or 4 bars of broken heath on the cake, then cover with cool whip. Sprinkle the rest of the Heath bars on top.
Better than 20 Organisms
(Can't really say orgasms or my children will bring the word up for their new word of the week in school). This is so simple and is a cure all for all things crummy.
1 package German Chocolate cake mix
1 package instant chocolate or fudge pudding
1 package milk chocolate chips
2 cups milk
Mix the above ingredients together, bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes. (It will be more like bread pudding consistency). Serve with fudge toppings and chocolate ice cream. When I make this, everyone knows to be very, very wary of me!
Pamela Dragon, "Ok, I am taking valuable time away from installing hardwood flooring to share my "Substitute for Sex" desert. I make it a lot when Bill is away on his ship...."
Substitute for Sex
1 block of graham crackers in the wax paper pack inside the box
a stick of butter
2 Tbs. sugar.
Mash the graham crackers into crumbs, add the sugar and melt the butter in something like a lasagna dish, about twice the size of a square brownie pan. When the butter is melted add the crumbs and mix thoroughly until you can press it all around the pan for the crust. Bake at 400 about 15 minutes until lightly browned.
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 packages of cream cheese (8 ounce)
1 recipe French pastry cream - a thick egg custard that is cooked on top of the stove.
vanilla or almond flavoring
Fresh strawberries or good frozen ones or really fresh ripe peaches -about a good quart of fruit, sliced. Add some lemon to the peaches and sugar if needed. Several fruits can be mixed together if you like but they should all be really luscious and your favorites.
Whip the cream until stiff. Fold the milk into the pastry cream then fold in the whipped cream. Spread a layer of this mixture on top of the baked crust. Then make a layer of the fruit and cover that with the remainder of cream. You can sprinkle toasted almonds or coconut or a combination of both or maccadamian nuts and coconut over the top too, adds crunch and even more decadence.
***NOTE: THERE CAN BE NO SUBSTITUTES FOR THE BUTTER, CREAM, CREAM CHEESE OR CUSTARD. This is not a recipe that works with Cool Whip, instant pudding, or margarine.
Chill overnight and either settle in front of the tv with a spoon or, if you must, invite friends over and serve for desert. You should be able to get a good 12 servings out of this...or one very satisfying lonely Dragon-sized serving.
Mark Motz, "Mmmmmmmm....sex cake! Oh how about crunchy food, like celery and rice crunch crackers, or fortune cookies. That would be fun."
Barbara Madden, "Popcorn balls. Somehow I don't think popcorn balls are appropriate at a wake."
Danny Boy, "Well, it depends on the circumstances of the death and the funeral..."
Ern Grover, "Beer Can Chicken. What not to wear... well, wearing an open army surplus fatigue jacket covering a Billy Bacon and the Forbidden Pigs shirt, jeans with grease and holes in the crotch, unshaved, unbathed, wearing a greasy NASCAR cap backwards, holding an open can of Coors, ready to shake hands and hug, for example. My brother would do something like this to me. But he'd put the can of Coors in my hand, put a few flowers in the opening ... but the can would be empty. Someone on this group might put an impaled Beer Can Chicken in there with me."
Phil Jones, "If the deceased died of a heart attack, then BK Whoppers are probably inappropriate. If the deceased died of a low-carb diet, then Atkins friend foods are a bad idea."
S. D. Youngren, "A whole fried fish--you know, with the eye staring up at you. Sushi, or, even worse: Beef tartare. A birthday cake. Champagne."
Phil Jones, "How about puffer fish?"
S. D. Youngren, "I'm not sure what it's properly called; I've heard it referred to as 'Hawaiian Barbecue' and 'Mexican Barbecue.' But it's when you dig a pit and put hot coals in the bottom, followed by maybe a couple of layers of something else, and then your well-wrapped whole pig or calf or whatever, all of which you then bury, in dirt, for a few hours. I've eaten it once, but not at a funeral. I mentioned this thread to my husband, who promptly nominated Devil's Food Cake, and Sizzling Rice Soup, and 'anything really HOT.'"
Cletus on Halloween
The Ultimate Urban Legend
I know this guy whose neighbor, a young man, was home recovering from having been served a rat in his bucket of fried chicken. To make matters worse, on the way home he stopped and bought a drink at a service station and found a finger in the bottle.
Can you believe his luck because he was still in mourning for his girlfriend who died from massive black widow spider bites after a female nested in her hair-sprayed hair and laid eggs, which hatched and bit her to death. She was bitten the day after Hallowıeen, which they spent in the hospital because heıd been cut by a razor someone shoved in an apple. She was in the hospital recovering from a near-fatal overdose of Pop Rocks which exploded in her stomach, tearing it open.
You might know this guy's brother, he's the diver who went to the bottom at Hoover Dam and saw those giant catfish, one of which attacked him and tore his leg almost off right below the knee. That was after this guy had survived an attack by a giant ball of water moccasins in the same river. But the incident at the hospital on Halloweeen was just before the guy was fired from major US corporation for leaking the story that the Moon and Stars symbol is actually a Satanic Reference because the company is owned by the Ku Klux Klan. While at the company he was in charge of putting LSD on kiddie temporary tattoos that Anti-Castro operatives based in Miami and trained by the military would use when they held infant sacrifice rituals. He planned to get rich, though, by selling the Nieman Marcus cookie recipe over the internet for $10.
He had just about saved enough money to buy his girlfriend a fur coat at that place just down the road from his house, but itıs a good thing he didnıt because the week he got fired, the place was raided and police discovered a german shepherd slaughterhouse in the back. The coats were being made from the dogs and carcasses sold to an oriental restaurant on the other side of town.
His girlfriend had divorced her husband last year after he dumped a truckload of cement into some other guyıs new convertible. Her ex thought she and the convertible owner were sleeping together, but they werenıt; he just ran out of gas in front of their house. The convertible was a prize that guy won in a radio contest by deciphering the backward-recorded subliminal messages on some John Denver records that Elvis dropped off at the station a few weeks earlier.
One day he went to sleep and when he awoke he was in his bathtub and it was full of ice and he was sore all over. When he got out of the tub he saw a note taped to the mirror saying that he needed to call 911 immediately because one of his kidneys had been removed and stolen.
But he was afraid to use his phone because it was connected to his computer, and there was a virus on his computer that would destroy his hard drive if he opened an e-mail entitled "Join the crew!" He'd been afraid to access his email for along time anyway because of the PENPAL GREETINGS! trojan horse virus that duplicated itself and emailed itself to everybody on his address list without his knowledge. He knew it wasnıt a hoax because he was a computer programmer who was working on software to save us from a new Dark Ages when the year 2000 rolls around and every utility company closes down leaving us all in the dark as every plane in the air crashes and all elevators everywhere get stuck between floors at the stroke of midnight, Dec. 31, 1999.
The program could have prevented a global disaster in which all the computers get together and distribute the $300 Nieman Marcus cookie recipe under the leadership of Bill Gates. Gates told me about this in an email promising me a free Disneyworld vacation and $5,000 if I would forward the e-mail to everyone I know, except I donıt like to handle cash because the back of US money contains hidden messages and Latin phrasing put there by the government-running coalition of Jews, international bankers, Trilateral Commission, the Illumnati, the New World Order, Jerry Falwell, right wing militias, Planned Parenthood, thinly disguised Civil Rights groups and the American Civil Liberties union.
It wouldnıt have mattered if he had called just then, because half the crews were busy at a house across town where a babysitter had shoved a baby in microwave to dry the infant after its bath; that was same microwave in which a poodle had exploded only the week before. The other half were at a house a few blocks away trying to figure out what to do with the girl who stayed under the sunlamp so long it cooked her insides.
Anyway, this guy left his house to find help and was narrowly missed by a cow dropped out of a Russian cargo plane, the crew of which picked up the cow to take it home for a BBQ. But the cow got nervous and started wrecking things so they had to throw it out.
The poor man then tried to call 911 from a pay phone to report his missing kidneys, but while reaching into the coin-return slot to get the quarter after if didnıt feed right he got jabbed with an HIV-infected needle around which was wrapped a note that said, "Welcome to the world of AIDS."
Luckily he was only a few blocks from the hospital - the one, actually, where that little boy who is dying of cancer is, the one whose last wish is for everyone in the world to send him an e-mail and the American Cancer Society has agreed to pay him a nickel for every e-mail he receives.
I sent him two e-mails and one of them was a bunch of xıs and oıs in the shape of an angel (if you get it and forward it to twenty people you will have good luck but ten people you will only have OK luck and if you send it to less than ten people you will have bad luck for seven years).
So anyway the poor guy tried to drive himself to the hospital. He used the Jet-Assisted Take-Off engine he stole from the nearby military base to pick up some speed. He started going so fast, he burned the brakes right off the car and then the car left the ground and started flying. He was in the air, and so unable to stop to pick up the vanishing hitchhiker.
Just before he crashed into a nearby cliff, he noticed another car driving with the lights off. To be helpful, he flashed his lights at the car and was promptly shot as part of a gang initiation. The gang was the same group of alien-human crossbred CIA operatives that shot JFK and then had to kill dozens more people to cover up the crime.
Police officers from Area 51 in Dreamland investigated the wreck and shooting and found an alienıs prosthetic hook on the door handle.
If he had just listened to his psychic buddy (the one that bends spoons with his mind) who told him all this was going to happen, he wouldnıt have bought that new SUV to take fishing to that hidden pond. He took his favorite laborator retriever along, but forgot about that when he threw a stick of dynamite to kill the fish. The dog brought back the dynamite and blew up the truck, nearly killing him. The truck was an experimental model that got 100 miles to the gallon by using a perpetual motion device.
He'd have been even closer to the hospital if he lived on the poor side of town, but he didnıt want to because the city charges those residents more for water, sewer and electricity than the city charged the rich people. What really caps the whole matter is that we know the Y1K problem caused the Dark Ages and without this guyıs help, weıre going back to the Dark Ages.
If, for some reason, you found this moderately interesting*, you may continue to get irregular ramblings by this writer by hitting this link firstname.lastname@example.org * even if you did not find it moderately interesting, the link will still work.
That Ol' Casino Spirit: Halloween on the Hill
"I do believe in spooks, I do believe in spooks, I do I do..." So goes the quote by the Cowardly Lion from the imaginative movie The Wizard of Oz. As we approach Halloween this first full year of the new Millennium, not a bad quote to begin with. Particularly since, as I've learned, getting into the spirit of things at local casinos in Central City and Black Hawk, Colorado, isn't strictly limited to Halloween.
The spirits were there, first. And depending on whom you ask, 'they' still are.
Historically, Central City and Black Hawk were both founded around 1859-60, and were one of several western North American magnets serving to attract gold fortune seekers from all over, much as California before, and the Canadian Yukon Territory would, later. At one time, Central City was touted as "the richest square mile on Earth". Black Hawk countered by calling themselves "the hippest square mile on Earth", indicative of a fierce competitive spirit not unlike the feuding Hatfields and McCoys: a feud which goes on to this day, but I digress.
Before limited stakes gaming was legalized by the voters of Colorado in 1990, the two towns (and their more south companion, Cripple Creek), were in an economic morass, with historic, if worn and crumbling infrastructure, few jobs, and little to save their apparent decline toward potential bankruptcy. Many of the buildings in the two towns dated to near their founding, though some were rebuilt after the devastating fire in 1873. With voter approval of gaming for the selected three towns, it was hoped that a new economic life would be breathed into the towns, and a renovation of their historic spirit and vitality would result.
Historic structures, such as the Gilpin Hotel in Black Hawk and the Teller House in Central City (now closed) saw a reversal of fortune, as another gold rush -- in the form of limited stakes gaming -- awakened the slumbering economies of the towns in October of 1991.
But that isn't all it awakened.
A good deal of the research for what follows is based on historical records, eye-witness accounts, local gossip, rumors, and some pretty convincingly-told folklore. Stories about things not easily explained. Stories that have, down the years, made for the classic ingredients of chilling campfire tales, or the seeds of bed time nightmares for children. Stories about things generally made frightful or fanciful by such master scary story tellers as Edgar Allen Poe, Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley, Stephen King, Rod Serling or the Hillary in 2008 Presidential campaign.
Maybe that last is too scary for even herein, but I digress again.
At any rate, many locals here claim knowledge of, or encounters with, the afterworld. Practically all of the older, original buildings in the two towns are reputed to be haunted: some by more than one spirit. Even a few of the newer facilities, built adjacent to older buildings, or gouged out of the mountainsides, have not remained immune: many a mine shaft was uncovered and filled in during the excavation processes for several new construction sites. Shafts that may have claimed a few lives 140 years ago, and remained "home" to those spirits, until progress brought them abruptly into the modern world.
Perhaps these rumored spirits are local inhabitants dating to the towns' earlier heydays; and now, they're timeless and almost invisible entities, occasionally seen as shadowy images and fleeting figures. Earth-bound souls, somehow tied to places they knew and loved, or perhaps met tragic ends in.
OR, they are alcohol/drug induced hallucinations, if not the product of overactive imaginations. Something like the notion of a kinder, gentler IRS.
I have worked in the casinos of Central City since 1992. Each of those I have worked in have their own "ghost stories", as related by other employees that I've worked with or interviewed for this article. In all that time -- from 1992 to the present -- I have yet to experience anything I'll concede is or was remotely paranormal. True, I've come across the random gaming customer who claims to receive radio waves from space, or carries on multiple conversations with inanimate objects about the zen of salvaged dinner scraps from a restaurant. But up to now, I have never seen anything that a few beers couldn't help me explain to someone else who'd had a few more.
That said, I'll add that I don't casually dismiss the anecdotes of some of my interviewees, either. More than a few of them I know to be quite credible folks, and not under the immediate care of their local casino pharmacist (aka bartender), before or during the interview. The overwhelming opinion of my interviewees is that most, if not all, of the casinos in Central City and Black Hawk are haunted. In general, by spirits that are gentle, peaceful, inquisitive and even fun-loving. In a couple of cases, however, the anecdotes speak to something a bit more tragic...and darkly ominous.
With the exception of documented encounters, I'll withhold the names of the establishments and the interviewees, because most of what I'm about to relate cannot be independently verified (each and every ghost I tried contacting for follow-up interviews failed to return my calls). I will note names and places where and when appropriate. Regrettably, I have more anecdotes than space to relate them all, so I'll give you a collection of "the best of", so to spook.
The first anecdote occurred in the parking lot above the now-closed Teller House, back in 1995: the witness pulled into the lot, and stopped to back into a parking space, when "out of absolutely nowhere", a bent old man comes walking across in front of the witness's car. The man appeared to be dressed like an old 19th Century prospector; he walked across in front of the vehicle, totally oblivious to it, and disappeared as quickly as he had appeared.
What affected the witness most, however, was the fact that his vehicle headlights shone through the man as he passed in front of the vehicle.
Staying with the Teller House, there are believed to be several ghosts who call the Teller House "home" (my thanks to both Dorothy Spellman and Mary Taitt for providing me with a written precis of these reported spirits). Three are of particular interest: Red Rosie, Bill Hamilton, and The Blonde Lady from the 3rd Floor.
According to the precis, Red Rosie had survived a small pox epidemic that killed 70 persons in the valley in 1901, and volunteered as a nurse to tend to the stricken who were put up in the Teller House (it became an improvised hospital at the time). Referred to afterward by many as "an angel or a saint", years after her passing, Red Rosie came back to the Teller House, and lives on there today: she is reportedly seen on occasion as a reflection in a mirror, located somewhere within the Teller House.
Bill Hamilton is described as a genial Irishman who was something of a backstage manager of the Central City Opera House in the 1930s, providing security to such entertainment luminaries as Lillian Gish and Mae West. He was also the caretaker of the silver ingots which were laid in front of the Teller House at that time. Hamilton was known in his day as a great teller of stories, and had a matching sense of humor, which remains evident according to several anecdotes: bartenders reported having been 'grabbed' when retrieving bar supplies from storage, and he once scared the wits out of a female employee by appearing to her, seated on a case of beer. When she screamed, he vanished, but immediately thereafter, the unmistakable smell of pipe tobacco was reported by the employee and those who responsed to her scream (Hamilton was, among other things, a lover of a "good pipe"). And a number of employees reported having smelled pipe tobacco when no one with a pipe was anywhere to be seen in the casino.
Finally, the Blonde Lady from the 3rd Floor. According to the information, it is believed that "her husband committed suicide after punching her." Apparently, many guests have heard her on the 3rd Floor, moaning and sobbing in the wake of his suicide.
Several other now-closed casinos have their reported ghosts: in one, it has been reported that surveillance video actually caught a picture of an 'image', standing in an aisle of slot machines after closing, as if someone were examing the machines. When security responded to check, no one was found, and the 'image' was no longer on camera. On another occasion, a shadow passed over a slot employee: again, the incident was alleged to have been caught on tape, as well as was when a bulletin board, hung on an interior wall in a stairway, was seen to suddenly rise straight out from the wall and drop to the floor.
Another casino has at least two identified ghosts: one is referred to as "John", and is reportedly a seasonal visitor. Now closed, the casino employees reportedly knew when "John" was in, and particularly when he was upset: one morning, every knife in the restaurant kitchen was found, point-first in the floor. The other ghost -- known as the Lady in Black -- visited a construction worker during the pre-opening renovation phase of this casino in 1992. He related working on the second floor, when he noticed a woman in a long, unfamiliar fashion black dress, watching him. When he asked what she was doing there, she turned and walked into the wall, vanishing.
He took the rest of the job off.
One Central City casino, still open, has at least three ghosts in residence: one is reportedly a tall cowboy, attired in the traditional hat and linen duster. He was seen in a mirror by one of the building owners, prior to the casino's opening in 1991. He related "feeling a presence over his left shoulder", and looked up into a mirror across the room, seeing the apparition. When he turned, there was no one there. After the casino opened, a cocktail waitress claimed that someone "tried to push her out a second story window" -- yet no one was within 10 feet of her at the time. And a graveyard shift janitor also claims to have had a 'running battle' with the ghost or "ghosts", over turning the game arcade machines on and off after closing. He'd shut the games off; suddenly, the games would come back on.
He was the only non-ghost in the building at the time.
As noted earlier, new construction in the two towns has proven not immune to spirited visitations, either: a valet employee of a newly-built casino (fall of '94) claimed to have seen a little boy in the valet parking garage; when the employee approached the boy, the boy turned and ran into the wall, disappearing. A security officer also reported encountering a man and woman just outside the stairwell of the hotel portion of the casino: both were reportedly in late 19th Century dress, and the woman was crying. When the security officer approached to see if she could help, the man visually bade her to step back, which she did.
The officer could see through the man and woman, to the wall.
At another casino -- with a new construction built onto an original building -- drop and count team members reported being "pelted" by empty coin cans, in the count room, by their casino ghost.
It's a good thing the ghost didn't use the full ones.
One anecdote doesn't involve a casino, but an under-renovation theatre in Central City, the Belvidere: a cocktail waitress showed me a picture she'd taken of a piano on the stage in the theatre; the picture was taken in the presence of other friends and family. My waitress friend asserts that no one was sitting at the piano when the picture was taken.
But someone was sitting there in the picture: a woman in Victorian attire. A woman you could see through in the picture.
Lastly, from a casino in Black Hawk: once again, an anecdote that is alleged to have been seen on surveillance video tape. When this particular casino closed at night, no one would remain on site. The alarm system was set, and the surveillance system was running. When the first employees arrived the next morning, they found a slot machine in jackpot mode, as if it had just been played and hit.
A review of the surveillance tape showed that nothing was amiss up to an hour after the last person had left the night before; then, suddenly, the slot machine handle depresses (as if pulled down), the reels spun, and the top-pay jackpot came up on the machine, activating the overhead flashing candle.
No slot tech I've ever spoken with has suggested that this type of slot machine can do this without someone (or thing) pulling down that handle.
And there are many, many more stories.
So...believe what you will this Halloween. Believe in or deny the hereafter. Acknowledge that sudden, chilling feeling that you're not alone, or dismiss it as an explainable anomaly. Whatever your persuasion, if you visit a casino in Central City or Black Hawk, and think that you feel the presence of something, you might just be right.
It just might be Lady Luck.
Or the Lady in Black.
Of course, writer Mike Bay has never experienced anything akin to what he relates; but he's pretty good at denial.
An American Redneck in London
Recently I caught bits and pieces of a reality show called, "World's Scariest Places." It wasn't my choice of viewing, but since my dear one wouldn't give up the remote, I decided to watch.
At the beginning, a ghoulish host explained an old castle's devilish history to an open-minded family. There are frightening reenactments of torture, murder, and Florida vote recounts. Next, decked out with cameras, flashlights, and smelling salts, the family splits up to explore. You can pretty much predict what happens next: screaming, shoving, and dramatic footage of the family battling spider webs, rats, and hidden technicians thumping the walls and flipping the lights on and off.
As the show ended, I sighed and said, "They ought to get some hill folks in one of those castles - they'd fit right in and wouldn't be scared a bit!" And my husband said, "Nah, it wouldn't make good drama."
I disagree - imagine with me......
In this episode, Cletus O'Dell, his wife Virginia, their still-single daughter Earlene, son Earl, and his wife Maylene visit the haunted Chillingham Castle in England. The host talks in his best Alfred Hitchcock voice, "Good even--"
"Where's the beer?" Earl burps.
"Whar's the beef?" Earlene cackles.
Virginia grunts, "Y'all shut up now and let this here nice man tell us about this purty place. Don't make me slap y'all in front of this camera."
The director stops filming, and politely asks everyone to be quiet. The host takes deep breath and begins again, "Good evening, welcome to Chillingham C--"
"Whar's the chilly ham?" Earlene says and then doubles over laughing at her joke.
An hour or two later, the introduction is finally filmed, and the O'Dells, bored that there isn't any free food or beer, yawn and strap on their cameras, lights, and microphones as the host talks of ghosts, torture, and strange lights and sounds.
Virginia disagrees with the prayer that the director wants them to read, "This is heresy. I ain't gonna pray for the good spirits to help - that's the devil's work. I'll pray the Lord's prayer."
Anxious to get the filming over, the director agrees. All five O'Dells bowed their heads, pray, and are turned loose in the castle. Virginia goes to the kitchen area mumbling, "Daggum heathen, tryin' to make me pray to spirits! I shoulda give him a right big piece of my mind."
Cletus heads off toward the stairs, "Oh hush up, Maw. I'm gonna go down to that torture chamber and see what I can find, why don't you see if there's anything to eat in there?"
Earlene finds a hidden camera, picks her nose, and says, "I'm gonna go upstairs 'n look in the BEDrooms for somethin' in-TER-restin'."
Earl grabs the sleeve of Maylene's Dale Earnhardt T-shirt and they walk toward the door. The cameras follow Earl and Maylene through a passageway and into the library. Maylene gasps, "Woo wee, wouldja lookit the size of that!" she cries and points to some movement behind a dusty chair, "Didja see it?"
Earl filches out his frog gig, "Hold on there, sugar bun," he says and then snags a five-pound rat.
"Yer the MAN!" Maylene grins. Looking closer at Earl's catch, she adds, "Why, that's just a baby! You might wanna set it loose, Earl."
Up in the sound room, the director spews his cafe latte all over his purple velour turtle neck. "I thought they'd go crazy! Set the bugs loose in the basement - this will send them running for sure."
Cletus descends the stairs and finds the torture chamber. He starts whistling Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison Blues and runs his fingers over a torture wheel. He smiles and says, "Lordy, what I wouldn't give for one of these babies, mmm mmm."
The camera pans in for a close up and he suddenly falls to his knees and bellows, "Gotcha!" Jumping up he whoops, "Wha-dang! This here's a NICE sized cricket!" He pulls out a battered margarine tub from a pocket in his hunting vest, and pops the cricket inside. Snapping on the lid, he sees another cricket and pounces on it.
"I hear the train a comin'- it's rollin' 'round the bend, I ain't seen the sunshine since I don't know when - I'm stuck in Folsom Prison, HEY!" he sings with glee, "Whoop! Whoop! I got me enough bait for two hours down at the crick!"
The director pales and then shakes his head, "Let's see if the daughter is spooked - get ready to dim the lights and thump the walls in the bedroom."
The camera in the master bedroom flips on, but the room is empty. Over to the right in the closet there is movement and groaning. As the camera focuses in, a skinny technician bolts from the closet with Earlene hot on his trail. "Come back here, honey! I got somethin' for ya!"
The technician, with large hickeys and pink frosted lipstick on his face and neck, squeals like a pig. From the hall another technician runs by, "Oh gawd, she's after ME now!"
"I just wanna hug, you sweet thang!" Earlene hollers. Both technicians run past Virginia in the kitchen, and she shouts, "Y'all come on back! There's enough food here for everybody!"
Virginia already swept, mopped, and scoured the dining room and kitchen, found some canned goods, lit a fire and baked a couple of casseroles, biscuits, and two pies. "This place is a pig sty. Whoever used to live here shoulda been housebroken. Tsk."
In the sound room, the lights go out, and there's a sudden bright blue flash followed by a "poof" sound. The director claws at his face, "OH NO! THE GHOSTS!" Giggling comes from the darkness. "That was purty cool, Maylene. I didn't know you could light farts that good. Ain't you somethin'?"
Virginia shouts from the kitchen, "Come 'n get it while it's hot, y'all!"
The entire staff of World's Scariest Places plus the eleven or so ghosts explode from the castle, never to be seen again.
And my hubby said this wouldn't be good drama.
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Gertie's List of 30 Fun Things to do on Halloween
Ain't got nothin' to do? Well, I wanna give y'all some idears on things to do just in case you get bored on Halloween.
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We were all something else and full of ourselves. The monthly in-service for administrators morning session had finished and we were waiting in the hall of Westside School for permission to enter the library where our lunch of Chicken Cordon Bleu was to be served with other goodies. Rest assured that none of the foods were commodities foods beyond the flour used to make the homemade yeast rolls. The morning had gone well and we had learned a whole bunch. The Superintendent had made his usual comments about those fools at the State Department. The Guest Lecturer had told his best first day jokes for the two-day training. In another hour we would go back for interactive work designed to keep us awake until 3:00.
Suddenly, the door to the first grade room across-from the library opened and a girl rushed out and closed the door behind her. Confronted with 40 pairs of kneecaps staring right at her, I saw her smiling expression change to one of great fright in her eyes.
In my mind's eye, I could see the events just before that door opened. Mrs. Jones, the first grade teacher, had called Suzy up to her desk to take a note to the office. Suzy was delighted. She was the chosen one. The teacher had picked her out of all the others to carry a note to the office. Mrs. Jones last instruction was, "Don't run in the hall, Suzy!"
She walked quickly to the door ready to close it behind her. Then, she could skip/run all the way to the office and back. She would buy enough time to look into her best friend's room if the door was open to see what they were doing. Then, she opened the door ...
The forty or so of us admired each other's new frocks or ties bought just to be right at the top of fashion for this important monthly date. Next month we would be in the latest finery once again. Married lovers cast tender glances at each other: Byron, Sam, Jim, Diane, Jill, and Pat. Unfortunately, none of their spouses were present. The good o1' boys were sharing their latest administrative concern over who would win the ball games Friday night. The good o1' gals were sharing their latest administrative concern, "I got this for half-price at Cricket-by-the-Creek." Randall was down the hall flirting with one of the fifth grade teachers. Ron was off dictating his staff. Basically, we were just chitting and chatting and waiting.
Out of that group, there was one principal I especially admired. Nell had a middle school with 1200 students. Whenever I visited in her building, she stopped or spoke to every student who crossed our path. She knew each one by name, interests, and problems.
Only two of us noticed Suzy with the frightened eyes. After all, we were on top of things; in charge of education; concerned about children. 1 was way down the hall and Nell was by the door.
Despite her new dress (and Nell was never a slouch at finding elegant finery), Nell knelt down on the floor until she was at eye level with the frightened child. She put her arm around her, comforted, and emotionally cleared the way for Suzy to continue on with her appointed errand.
Knees on automatic pilot moved out of the way as she threaded through the crowd while important education issue continued to be discussed. Suzy moved confidently down the hall and did not skip/run until she turned the comer.
When Suzy returned, Nell was watching. Their eyes met, Suzy took a deep breath and negotiated her way through the crowd again while keeping locked on Nell's guiding light.
And so it is with life, we skip up to each new door in anticipation never knowing whether joy or fear will be on the other side. And especially for someone to calm the fear in our eyes.
How Do You Know It's Halloween?
"TRICK or TREAT!"
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The Halloweens of your youth are so much better than your modern day Halloweens. Consider Halloween in the town of Boonville, Indiana, where my 1970's career as a Trick-or-Treater remains legendary. November 1 always found the residents of my town in agreement. Gazing upon what my friends and I had wrought on All Hollows Eve, they would say to each other, "You know, it's hard to believe we need a place called 'hell'." Alas, those days are gone.
Transported to today, the Halloween revelries of my youth would rate 24/7 cable news coverage, and when Homeland Security caught up with me, the months long trial that followed would get intense scrutiny on talk shows like Greta Van Susteren's.
In short, I enjoyed Halloween growing up. For me, it marked the true beginning of the holiday season. First, strangers loaded you down with candy. Then in November, your Grandmother loaded you down with turkey drumsticks, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. Finally, in December, your parents loaded you down with toy loot, while your dad got loaded period.
Cute couple. You should have seen them after they put on their Halloween costumes.
Most importantly, you got to be naughty for one night in October, because no one back then had heard of "political correctness". Today, kids who behave like I did are liable to get sent down for a stretch as an adult or been given personality altering drugs.
Oh sure, half-hearted attempts were made to reform guys like me. We were shown "Scared Straight" videos, but we laughed those off like those sex ed films with talking genitalia. Today, the gay community would object to children being shown any video called "Scared Straight".
Grab a bar of soap, scribble obscenities on your computer screen, and take a look back with me at how Halloween used to be:
The Halloween season began early in October. Finding and sneaking into a well grown corn field was the big weekend activity. If you didn't pinch enough corn to shuck and fill a 40-pound burlap sack, you weren't coming out with me on Halloween.
It was the opinion of all right-minded kids that if you wore a store bought costume, you were a sissy who needed a flashlight and Mama to go trick-or-treating. One year, my friend Ron covered himself with manure, poked bristles from a push broom into the manure, and went out as a cow turd. Now that's the kind of costume I'm talking about. Let's see Wal-Mart match that with something off their racks.
I'm currently researching ways to inject bleach directly into my brain in an effort to cleanse away this image. Looks someone wants to know if this "Hulk Hogan" wears a codpiece.
Last year, we took our youngest boy out dressed as a lion. The "boy" inside me raged for days about it until I reminded him that I was a responsible parent now and that he should shut up and just remember the glory days of dressing up as a hobo by carrying around a full bottle of the old man's Jack Daniels.
For most any Halloween night, you simply needed a heavy duty bag for the candy, soap, water balloons, and several rolls of toilet paper.
There was one year when we decided to do the "flaming bag of poop". I supplied the bag and the lighter, and my friend Ron supplied the other necessary ingredient, which was a last minute addition, of course, because fresh is better for this particular trick. (I've already illustrated what kind of attitude Ron had about Halloween. I stood as a rank amateur next to him. After that night, I also stood in awe of him, and upwind too.
Halloween broke down into two phases: treats and then tricks, with an appropriately long break in between to allow people to settle into their homes for the evening.
The early evening hours of Halloween were spent in phase 1, Operation: Diabetes, going to as many houses as we could reach with our bikes. It worked best if you rode your bike directly through the yards. You could jump off it, be at the door, and back on the bike with the candy in about 1 to 2 minutes depending on how slow the householder was. The really slow pokes got a mental post-it note to be returned to later, for phase 2.
After eating your weight in candy, haunted houses were the best way to spend your time waiting for 11 PM to get here so that you could initiate phase 2, Operation: Annihilate.
A modern Halloween game: Fishing for dorks with donuts as bait.
We always attempted to build our own haunted house every year, preferably in Ron's basement. After several hours of playing spooky sound effect albums, rattling chains, and going bump in the basement, Ron's mother would develop an entertaining facial tick.
You were sophisticated and cool if you could go to the worst haunted house in town and emerge without having screamed or wet your pants. And, your street cred rose sharply if you were observed kicking one of the ghouls in his very human stones.
Corning cars was the first, best activity of phase 2. You had to do it early enough so that there was traffic, but not so much traffic that you got caught easily.
It's a challenge to run with a 40-pound bag of corn from someone whom you've just made hot enough under the collar to cause spontaneous sterilization. Hard, but rewarding.
Water ballooning cars caused more excitement for everybody involved, but it was trickier because of logistics. You had to be near to a water source because you can't run with loaded balloons. The trouble was that even the donut-laden police in our town caught on and pinged you if you stayed in one area too long.
I could use one of these year round.
My psycho next door neighbor, Mr. Potter, caught our one and only "flaming bag of poop" trick. Now, I've told my children a lot of stories about Mr. Potter, like how he used to take a butcher knife and chase his wife around naked, or how he used to try to shoot me when I walked past his house, but I've never told them about the "flaming bag of poop". Truth to tell, after lighting the bag and pounding on his door, I decided to run away like a Vietnamese running from John Kerry's swift boat instead of merely running to a vantage point from which I could view the spectacle. I don't know how it turned out. Frankly, for a variety of reasons, I'm just glad Mr. Potter is dead now.
My Halloween career ended abruptly one night on the levee at City Lake. We were water ballooning cars when one guy took our efforts in entirely the wrong spirit and screeched to a stop. He was mad enough to make his liver explode. Amid the smoke and smell of burning tire rubber, I observed him moving up the hill in such a way as to suggest that I wasn't going to see my 14th birthday if I didn't run for it. The scene looked like it belonged in hell, and the driver looked as much like the Devil as is possible for someone wearing jeans and a t-shirt. I ran for it.
It's funny. You can roam a town for 10 years and never notice small but important changes. For example, I was completely unaware that the city had planted two concrete posts and stretched a steel cable between them at the end of the levee. I caught up on current events when I hit the cable with my stomach while running at a speed that would have caused my track coach to rejoice if he had been there. My friends dragged the body into a bush, bless them, and continued making a break for it. I didn't make a sound as the driver ran by my bush. This wasn't an attempt at stealth. You can't make a sound when your stomach has been wrapped around your spine and your lungs forced up into your throat. Even now, just thinking about it, I get short of breath and break out in a cold sweat.
As I was lying there thinking black thoughts, it occurred to me that Halloween wasn't as much fun as it used to be. This was a warning. It said to me, "Retire. Retire while you're still on top. No body likes a champion who has gone past his prime."
Here I sit today, with a Halloween career that no doubt lives on in the bitter memories of many an unfortunate driver. They can take comfort in the fact that careers like mine aren't really possible today. Ironically, so am I.
İ Copyright 2004, Phil Jones. No part may be used or reproduced without permission unless you'd like something hot and steamy left on your front porch.
I'm sure that most of you have either read about southern expressions or seen or heard people like Jeff Foxworthy (Shameless use of celebrity name) talk about southernisms.
Most folks have either heard or tried to use southern axioms at one time or another. With that in mind, and with my ongoing attempt to enlighten and educate the nawth'rn folks, here are some southern Halloweenie expressions straight from the root cellar.
Booger: This un's a noun, and no, it's not the noun you are thinking. A booger is some kind of monster, but I'm not quite sure exactly what kind. Although boogers are prevalent at Halloween, they can be conjured by angry parents at a moments notice. An alternate form of booger is booger-bear, which is basically the same thing. Example: "If you kids don't git ta bed right now, the booger-bears are gonna gitcha!"
Cough'n: This un's a noun, not what ya do when your throat itches. It's a long box you bury dead people in. While Yankee types may say casket, to southern folks, it's still just a pine box. Example: "Didja see that? Drackler jus' came outta that cough'n!"
Drackler: If you didn't figure out this one from the example above, well, thar prob'ly ain't no help fer ya. Sometimes referred to as Count Drackler. Example: "That Drackler fella jus' turnt himself into a bat."
Haint: This is an old word referring to a ghost or spirit. Ever since the movie Poltergeist came out, you don't hear it as much. Maybe people think they need big $2 words now, but down south it's still possible you may hear someone refer to a haint. Example: "I'm tellin' ya Dora Mae, thar's a booger or a haint in the attic." Haint is not just reserved for Halloween not to poltergeists. It can also mean a male figure who won't be doing something. Example: "Let me tell ya bout my brother, Phil. H'aint never had a lick of sense since the day he was borned."
Skeert: A word meaning frightened. With the "t", it's past tense, without the "t" it's present tense. As I mentioned before, remember the "t" is still soft. Example: "Dangit, Earl Ray, ya nearly skeert me ta death with that boogerbear costume!"
Triggertree: It's a three word exclamation screamed by children dressed in all sorts of outfits wanting candy on Halloween. In many parts of the country, it sounds more like Trick or Treat, but here in the heart of Dixie we soften our consonants just a tad. Example: [Knock on door] "Triggertree, y'all!"
Wire woof: No, this has nothing to do with wars or cramming food down. It's a monster that changes from a human to a wolf on a full moon. Sometimes referred to as a woof man. Example: "That movie with ol' Drackler and the wire woof nearly skeert me outta my britches."
While this is by no means an exhaustive look at southern lingo during the upcoming Halloween holiday, maybe it will allow those less fortunate than the ones who were born and raised here to get through with a minimum of difficulty.
"Y'all come back, now, y'hear."
"They Don't Scare Girls, Do They?"
by S. D. Youngren © 2004
"They don't scare girls where you come from," my husband says. With a certain amount of scorn.
He grew up in Southern California--in Santa Monica, actually--and loves to maintain the superiority of his glamorous big-city childhood and youth to mine, up in the trackless boonies of San Jose. Never mind that my trusty American Heritage Dictionary, published the year after he left for the Bay Area (1978) describes his hometown as "A suburban city of California, west of Los Angeles. Population, 87,000" and mine as "A city of California, near the southern end of San Francisco Bay. Population 437,000." He is set on this point. Never mind that compared to Los Angeles, our nearest bigger city, San Francisco, is--
Um. Well. Scary things. We did have "haunted houses" offered every Halloween, I tell him. We had a remnant of a vineyard, a couple of blocks away, in which a little girl was rumored to have been killed by a pack of dogs at some time in the murky past. And the standard path to my junior high led through an orchard bordered by a fence behind which some large canine barked and snarled and against which he threw himself, trying to leap over at us. Not scary enough to prevent us from going through, but it was something.
"They don't scare girls where you grew up." What he means is I didn't go to the movie theaters much, and never saw the movie that terrified him half to bits.
My hometown, of course, has its own scary-things pedigree. Remember the line in the Attack of the Killer Tomatoes theme song, "They're marching into San Jose"? And how the classic hungry i recording of Tom Lehrer singing "Pollution" claimed that "The breakfast garbage you throw into the Bay/They drink at lunch in San Jose"? There's also the nearby Milpitas Monster, who grew from garbage to do what such monsters do, but that was really a local joke. Actually, these are of course all jokes. More or less. Not like the horror movie that, for my husband, just about ended all horror movies. Not like . . . Trog.
He was a kid, of course, when Trog came out . . . or should I say, "was released?" Trog, in case you don't know, was a caveman--actually the Missing Link, no less; a real-life troglodyte (get it?)--who was dragged from his nice cozy cave and hauled off to The Lab but who for some reason just refused to settle down and allow himself to be civilized. Actually, civility was remarkably low on his list; he much preferred throwing people onto convenient meathooks, and similar entertainments. Trog was not a special-effects spectacular. My husband says he was a bit annoyed, even at the time, to notice that the tranquilizer darts used in a vain attempt to mellow Trog out looked just like the darts he himself had, on occasion, thrown at dartboards. But, I am told, it was very, very scary, especially the part when the scientist--at least he thinks the guy was a scientist--was about to get into his car and didn't know yet that Trog had escaped. Seen from a low camera angle he opened the trunk . . . put in his briefcase . . . closed the trunk . . . and as the lid came down there was Trog, right there behind it; he'd been there right behind the car the whole time, more or less, waiting. And it was too late to run.
If you think that scientist was surprised, just imagine how my husband's parents felt. They had brought their two boys to this movie thinking, my husband says, that it would be "sciencey." It had, you know, scientists in it. And it was about evolution. Or something. One wonders how the thing had been advertised; this was, after all, before the days of the productless advertisement: The car ad that shows only scenery, the jeans ad that shows people in their underwear. The schlocky horror movie ad that shows a serious scientific discussion of evolution and . . . Wait, no; cancel that. Even these days, you can tell a horror movie ad. You will always be able to tell a horror movie ad.
My future in-laws must have been annoyed. But they sat through it, and so did their kids. And then they went home. And to bed.
The two boys, who shared a bedroom, shivered in their bunks for as long as they could, visions of the movie relentlessly flooding their brains. Trog behind the scientist's car. Trog throwing the guy on the meathook. Trog killing the German shepherd. And then, simultaneously, the boys hurtled out of bed, down the hall, and onto their peacefully-dozing parents. My husband knows enough about science now to understand that he and his brother quite likely did touch their feet to the floor at some point, but he can't be entirely sure.
"What is it?" their parents asked. "What's wrong?" It was a while before they managed to get to the awful truth: their sons were terrified of that stupid movie. My husband says they managed not to say, But it was fake! Stupid! How could that rubbish scare anybody? They must have wondered what kind of offspring they were raising, but they were tactful. "Don't be ridiculous," they said. "Go back to bed."
They would not go back to bed--not to their own beds. Both of them slept with their parents that night. It scared them that badly. Their parents could not understand it, refused to believe it, but it did. And for years afterwards my husband remembered Trog as terrifying.
Until he saw it again, as a grownup.
"I see why my parents couldn't understand how scared we were," he says. "It was so stupid!"
"You said it was the scariest movie you've ever seen," I said.
"Should I see it?" I asked.
He hesitated. "If you want," he said.
He looked as if he might have been just a tad embarrassed at the thought. Maybe he really does disapprove of failing to scare girls.
S. D. Youngren is the author of the humorous short story web site Rowena's Page and the paperback Rowena Gets a Life, which is comprised of stories from the site. She was born and raised in San Jose, California, and now lives with her husband in Los Angeles, which is definitely scarier.