As usual for Halloween, I have some particular costumes I really like. This year the collection is really augmented by Mr. Watt and others, and thanks for that. Enjoy, and yeah, I know Halloween was yesterday. I went to work and wrote this screed...my big fun was last Saturday.
Today I take my annual trip to Hollywood Memorial to visit my grandparents & great-grandparents. To you it might be Day of the Dead, Todos Santos, Toussaint, Diwali, Eid, Allerheiligen etc., but to my Celtic Scots-Irish redneck ancestors...it's Samhain (pronounced SOW-EN), the first day of the New Year. If I could find a well to look in, I'd do it NOW. And again as usual, the list an Irishman sent me almost 10 years ago, when e-mail was still pretty rare; as usual, he saves the best for last:
Samhain! Irish Culture Conrad Bladey
What to do for the Samhain Holiday-The First day of Winter- Hallow Een, Hollantide oiche Shamhna ( Samhain Evening), Snapapple Nigh, P`uca - a time of feasting merrymaking and divination celebrated on the night of October 31 and Nov. 1-all saints day. Note- These are Traditional practices well researched and accurate,however there is considerable regional variation and in the modern age many customs have been lost.
And I add, eat more sushi:
Love of sushi could help coastal ecosystem
I mean, how can Europeans knock the holiday? Didn't they help think it up?
Can I plug software for a second? I installed a new PC recently at my pal's studio, and with his broadband connection and high-resolution screen was able to run "Google Earth". This thing really blows my mind...it's basically a satellite photo rendering of the earth. I've spent hours of fun (I'm not joking) flying like a Halloween witch over the world. I've revisited wonderful places I've been to, from the Bobastro high above Malaga to the high cliffs of the Slieve League in Ireland, I've found my car parked at friend's houses, and I've been to places I've never been to, like the Ginza and the Kremlin. Because the program includes elevations of terrain and buildings, you can tilt it up and literally fly across the landscape, or position yourself at a familiar location and see a virtual skyline! Absolutely amazing...I am reminded of "Rigor in Science", a story by Jorge Luis Borges about a map so perfect that it was the same size as the place it represented, and thus became a virtual representation (PS this story was written in 1960!) Anyhow, it's been a wild ride and the program has practical benefits, like showing the locations of nearby gas stations, driving directions (with a speeded-up movie of the drive!) etc. If you have a powerful PC (sorry, Mac users) with broadband and a 1024x728 screen, try it out:
Speaking of interesting places I've been, here's a website about some excellent folk art sites around the world...I'm pleased to say that three of these sites are in California, I've been to all three and met the creators of two of them:
Still on the subject of Earth-travel, the other day I was watching one of my favorite travel shows, "Globe Trekker", where some rather goofy (and on occasion, amazingly brave) 30-something kids travel the world looking for trouble. They do all the things that Rick Steves doesn't: drink hard alcohol, go to gay clubs, eat bugs, find dark historical places and basically have a lot of fun. These travellers don't shirk from uncomfortable situations; a few nights back I watched in awe as Justine Shapiro (the cute Berkeley chick) walked through the main market in Mexico City wearing a miniskirt, trying to point out the more unusual foods. She kept smiling, but any of youse been to Mexico can imagine how many wolf whistles she heard in the background as she walked through the market. The next day, when she took the bus to the ruins at Teotihuacan, she was wearing a dress that came down to her ankles! Not
only did she eat bugs, but she also nearly got creamed by a luchador flying out of the ring at the Coliseo, met the infamous Doll Man of Xochimilco, and was nearly burnt by a nutcase in Taxco with an exploding rack of fireworks strapped to his back. Justine is a trooper:
Ian Wright, one of the English travellers, is funniest and the most adventurous traveller, and I've watched him play football on the street in Iran and stay in a yurt above the Arctic Circle in Norway. But another English traveller, the very hot Shilpa Mehta, has a tendency to try exotic foods and then start choking. She went to northern Spain along the pilgrim's trail and nearly spit out the orella (pig's ear) she'd ordered in a bar, while the bartender and the old men in the bar laughed their asses off at her. Poor Shilpa.
Of course, everyone in California knows the ubiquitous Huell Howser by now, the gay ex-Marine who has done more to promote the state than anyone since the Gold Rush:
I give him credit for going everywhere in the state I've been and/or wanted to go to, including Salvation Mountain, the salt mines near San Jose and Le Conte Falls in the Hetch Hetchy. Huell gets around, but I'll bet almost no one remembers the show that inspired him, "The Happy Wanderer". The Happy Wanderer was an impossibly jolly retired reporter named Slim Barnard who used to cruise around the Southwest in a camper with his equally jolly wife back in the 1960s, and all I remember of this television show was the theme song ("Happy Trails"), and also that it made me want to take long drives in the desert, and so for that I am deeply indebted to Slim.
Another guy who likes to take long drives in the desert is David Yetman, the host of "The Desert Speaks" out of Tucson, Arizona. Yetman is very typical of the kind of people you actually meet wandering around out in the middle of the desert, always thirsty and hungry, but with a great sense of humor and always ready to drive his all-terrain vehicle off-road in search of useless things, like ruins and old battle sites.
Anyway, that's my public service for this week. "The Happy Wanderer" has mysteriously disappeared from everywhere, even the Internet, but the other three shows are recommended if you have a trip in mind and are all on PBS.
Without further ado (and minimal explanation) I give you the weird world of Samhain...yeah, it's NOVEMBER.
Dead man gets parking ticket from Australian cops
Corpse Involved in Mexico Motorcycle Crash
Biker with dead passenger starts Mexican murder hunt
Paris Hilton says, hot for a cold winter:
This site provides a light scientific evaluation of selected gadgets employed by fictional spy James Bond (007) and villains in the James Bond movies. Gadgets include X-ray glasses, jetpack, face recognition security, and night binoculars. Also includes some related information about the movies. From the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).
This is all the James Bonds I need this winter, an entire survival kit stored in an Altoids tin; I've always sought some reason to hang onto these tins (thanks, Geri):
Need a survival kit?
Biological Alarm in Washington
By Mark Benjamin
Did terrorists attack Washington with a deadly pathogen?
Need a watch? Read to the end of this article to see what Kennedy really thought of Marilyn Monroe...
Monroe watch gift to JFK sold for 120,000 dollars
Halloween may not be a legal holiday in the US, but Samhain is for our men in uniform (thanks, Robert)!
Something Wiccan This Way Comes
Speaking of pagan rituals, you can learn a lot (well, not really) about Scientologists from these absurd Flash movies (thanks again, Geri; you will prefer a broadband connection to view this cruel website):
and for even crueler fun...
They've got nothing on Christian intelligence...
By Peter Dizikes
The Boston Globe
Proponents of Intelligent Design have exploited a vexing question at the heart of Darwin's theory. Now, say two leading biologists, scientists can - and must - answer back.http://www.truthout.org/docs_2005/102305F.shtml
More weirdness (thanks again, Robert)...
Sweden's new funeral rite - bodies freeze-dried, powdered and made into tree mulch
Brazilian couple's wedding ends in brawl with Malaysian royalty
Good costumes in Victoria, Canada (thanks again, Mike):
Man costumed as feces has case in court to settle
And finally, in case you still haven't, a lesson on how to carve a pumpkin:
Vive le screed!