Monday, October 31, 2022

Trick or Treat for Halloween

Began my Halloween with stories from the Colliers Harvest of Holidays anthology. "The Blue-Nosed Witch" is a scatterbrained young sorceress who is always late to her coven's broom formation. On Halloween, she accidentally sets her alarm so early, she ends up trick-or-treating with the local kids. Another young modern witch uses her magic to bring up "The Water Nixie," but she's disappointed. She and her friends were hoping for fairies. Also read several spooky poems on the frights and delights of the Halloween season. 

Switched to the original Legend of Sleepy Hollow after I finished those. I found a book of Washington Irving's short stories on the sale rack at the Oaklyn Library several years ago and have read it on or around Halloween ever since. The story of Ichabod Crane and what he did (or didn't) run into on that fateful bridge remains genuinely creepy to this day, especially the part where he encounters the infamous Headless spook!

Went into Halloween specials while having breakfast. "Spook-a-Nanny" was the only episode of the original Woody Woodpecker Show made directly for television. Woody ends up spending most of the episode blowing up balloons for his boss Walter Lanz. He wants to attend the big party for Lanz animated stars, but Chilly Willy, Andy Panda, and the other guests play pranks to keep him out. He joins a ghost rock group, but forgets he can't walk through the walls like they can.

Moved to Garfield's Halloween Adventure while I got organized and brought the laundry downstairs. I went further into this and Halloween Is Grinch Night the day before Halloween in 2018 on my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog. 

Headed out for a very quick run to PNC. I needed to pick up money and talk to them. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of going around 12:30, when everyone was at lunch and had time to do the same thing. I had to use the ATM outside, and everyone inside had too many customers to ask them about how the upgrades to my John Hancock accounts are going. I'll call them tomorrow. 

Had lunch and switched the laundry to the dryer while watching Arsenic and Old Lace. Theater critic Mortimer Brewster (Cary Grant) has a heck of a Halloween when he marries the girl next door (Priscilla Lane), then comes home to Brooklyn to tell his sweet old aunts and delusional Uncle Teddy (John Alexander), who thinks he's Teddy Roosevelt. He's horrified when he learns that the little old dears have been giving elderly gentlemen with no family poisoned elderberry wine and having Teddy bury them in the basement. Worse yet, his homicidal brother Johnathan (Raymond Massey) comes home, with his plastic surgeon (Peter Lorre) in tow and his own bodies to bury in the basement. Mortimer has to figure out how to keep his new wife away from the madness and alert the local beat cop (Jack Carson) that something's rotten in the borough of Brooklyn, before he's their next victim!

Hilarious pitch-black comedy benefits from Grant's expert timing and some sharp and funny lines from the hit stage play of the same name. Alexander steals the show as Uncle Teddy, who yells up the stairs blowing a bugle while yelling "Charge!"

Worked on writing while the movie was on. Ross tries to remind Brett that he's not Gene, has never tried to be Gene. He's himself. Brett, however, misses Gene badly and wishes Ross was more like him. Charles tries to point out that they're having as much fun together as they ever did. 

Got my costume together towards the end of the movie. I had that blue-checked long-sleeved button-down shirt I got from a friend of mine in March. Threw the navy corduroy vest my mother made for my cowgirl costume in 1989 over it, along with jeans and my Ugg boots. Tied the plastic knife around my waist with a crocheted belt I made the last time I dressed as a cowgirl. Tried to keep my plastic cap gun in my pocket, but it kept falling out. I just left it on the front steps.

Spent the next few hours sitting on the front stoop, reading Washington Irving short stories like Dolph Heylinger and Rip Van Winkle between kids. I gave out candy for a friend who says she usually doesn't get many trick-or-treaters. Maybe more took advantage of the compressed time out (Oaklyn's trick or treat was from 3 to 7 this year) to go out earlier and stay closer to home. I gave out all 30 of my Mystery Bags (including two for my friend's daughter and her friend) in less than an hour. She ended up buying more candy and fruit snacks to give away, and we didn't have a lot of that left by the time rain ended trick-or-treating prematurely around quarter after 6. 

I saw a lot of creative costumes this year. One little angel in fluffy wings and a tutu was so excited to find out what was in her Mystery Bag, she tore into it after I put it in her hand. One group was The Wizard of Oz, a mom Glinda and dad Tin Woodsman with a tiny Dorothy and lion and older Scarecrow and Witch of the West. Saw at least five Spider Men and one Spider Girl, along with a very small Iron Man. There was a tiny toddler shark, a dad Stripe and kid Gizmo from Gremlins, Hermoine from Harry Potter, Pikachu, and Evie from the Descendants films. The elementary-school-age girl who lives across the street went as a black cat. A teen group included Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, and a grim reaper. There were two small police officers, Buzz Lightyear, and a plethora of ghouls and witches. Ran into at least three other cowgirls, a mom, a tiny adorable miss in a cow-print skirt, and an elementary-school girl in a glitzy white costume I suspected may have been a western-themed dance outfit. The final two Mystery Bags went to a pair of flower maidens in lilac and soft gold gowns. 

I wasn't the only adult who dressed to give out candy, either. The man across from me sported a Friday the 13th hockey mask. A woman on the next block was a Phillies cheerleader. A lady across the street wore a yellow Victorian dress and carried a parasol. The male couple across the street didn't dress for the holiday, but they were joined by a handsome and well-behaved young Irish setter. He didn't even bark when my friend's cat joined me for scratches and belly rubs. A couple dressed as vampires even walked their dogs wearing bat wings. Another woman walked a terrier in a mermaid-print sweater. 

It had been gloomy, humid, and breezy all day. Perfect Halloween weather...until the clouds finally opened up around 6 PM. Sat on the porch for another 15 minutes after that. The rain did lessen, I suspected trick-or-treating had ended. I saw no more kids and finally went inside for dinner.

Had dinner upstairs while watching the 2002 version of Family Feud with Richard Karn as part of that Buzzr Halloween marathon. Maybe they should have worn costumes all the time on that version. Dressing the part sure woke up Karn. He had far more fun wearing Dracula's cape and doing his accent and playing pirate and imitating Jack Sparrow than he did on most regular episodes. Lots of cute costumes in these shows, too. One family in the second episode appeared as a football team, with son "players," a wife cheerleader, and Mom as the coach. The other family was all greasers with a Pink Lady cousin. 

The rain continued to fall at 7, but it wasn't nearly as heavy. I debated going to the parade, but I couldn't seem to find whether or not it was still on. Finally decided to at least go look at lights. Rain or no rain, I wanted to do something on Halloween night. 

It finally let up as I strolled down West Clinton. A small group of mainly elementary school kids and their parents gathered under umbrellas, surrounded by fire trucks. Yes, the parade was on. There were even people watching us on West Clinton as a ragged group made its way down the road. More and more people joined us on the way. We still weren't as big as usual, but a slightly larger parade made its way into the Fire Hall five or so minutes later.

They did have costume judging this year, too, and tons of candy. There were some great costumes here, too. My former neighbors Ronnie and Brittany's son Ryan was a huge red squid in an inflatable costume. Their daughter Savannah was a punk ghoul. I saw two Spider Gwens, two more Spider Men, a pretty pre-teen witch in a glittery black cape, bright green alien parents with two boys dressed as an astronaut and a UFO surrounded by tinsel, a darling little Phillies Phanatic in a green tutu, a little unicorn, a girl firefighter with a blow-up truck, a mom sorceress, two more policemen, another black cat, Luke Skywalker, and a college age elephant wearing a Phillies jersey. A toddler Elliot rode in a red wagon tricked out complete with a stuffed ET in a box up front. Mom and Dad were Elliot's siblings. 

I knew the parent aliens would get first place in the adult division. They really were that cool in their lime-green suits and wigs. I felt sure the elephant or sorceress would get second, but lo and behold, they called me! I got 10 dollars that will go towards a treat later in the week. (The elephant came in third.)

Ran It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown when I got home as I put away my costume pieces. Linus claims  the Great Pumpkin will come on Halloween night and bring treats to all the good little children. Sally joins him in a "sincere" pumpkin patch against her better judgement. Charlie Brown has more trouble trick-or-treating, while Snoopy spends his Halloween fighting the Red Baron.

Finished the night after a shower with two rare late 70's Halloween specials on YouTube and a classic short at Disney Plus. Once Upon a Midnight Scary from 1979 has Vincent Price narrating three spooky stories from horror and fantasy novels. The first segment is based on The Ghost Belonged to Me. This short from the Blossom Culp series has a young boy discovering he can speak to ghosts. His ghost is a young girl who warns him about how she drowned when the local bridge washed out. He can avert disaster if he warns a bus driver from doing the same. Rene Auberjoinis is Ichabod Crane in a brief but spooky version of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. The House With a Clock In Its Walls is the longest segment. A boy learns his uncle is a wizard, and tries to use magic to impress a classmate. He ends up raising the spirit of an evil witch named Selenna, who attacks his uncle to find the Doomsday Clock in the walls of their house.

Obviously low-budget and not terribly good. Auberjoinis' performance as Ichabod and the genuinely spooky finale gives Sleepy Hollow a lift. House starts a little slow, but builds to a decent climax with the destruction of the clock. (And I like that Price encourages the viewers to read the actual books if they want the full stories.) 

Judd Hirsch is an extremely unlikely Dracula in The Halloween That Almost Wasn't, also from 1979. He's horrified when the Witch (Mariette Hartley) refuses to ride her broomstick over the moon and begin Halloween. She wants more recognition and to be the co-leader of the monsters. He's about to agree to her demands, until two trick-or-treaters remind her why they love the holiday and appreciate her. 

Donald Duck also has trouble with a witch in "Trick or Treat," one of his most famous shorts. He plays mean tricks on his nephews and won't give them candy. Kindly Witch Hazel takes pity on them and puts a spell on Donald and his house. When that doesn't work, she uses her magic to make Donald's feet dance the candy out of the closet!'s a good thing the parade ended when it did. It started raining much harder about a half-hour after I got home and has been pouring off and on ever since. Here's hoping that you had an equally fun (and drier) Halloween with all the little ghouls, police officers, squid, Gremlins, and cowgirls in your life!

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