Saturday, October 26, 2013

Fun Friday Facts #85: Halloween Edition the Second

I Don't Like Mondays Blog Hop

I was going to say that I was shocked to find, when I went back and dug around in my old blog posts, that I didn’t even do a Halloween-themed Fun Friday Facts last year, but that would be a lie. Last year was the presidential election, and that was the scariest thing imaginable. It always is because goddamn if this country isn’t overrun with stupid lunatics.

But I digress.

The year before last, I blogged about the origins of Halloween, trick-or-treating, Halloween costumes, and jack-o-lanterns. Feel free to go ahead and read that blog post if you’re new here, I’ll wait.
For the rest of you:

According to at least one dubious source, bats became associated with Halloween because of the ancient Celtic tradition of building a bonfire at Samhain. Bonfires attract bats. That I can at least verify based on personal experience, because when I was a kid my mother used to drag me out camping all the time and there were always bats trying to crash the party. My mother hates bats, for the record. I don’t know what she thought she was doing.

Contrary to what popular belief, no one has ever tried to harm a random child by poisoning Halloween candy. A single child, 8-year-old Timothy O’Bryan, died in 1974 from eating Halloween candy poisoned with cyanide. It doesn’t really count as a random act of violence, however, because poor little Timothy’s own shitty father gave him the candy, after taking out a life insurance policy on him and his little sister, 5-year-old Elizabeth. To cover his tracks, the father, Ronald Clark O’Bryan, gave the candy to a few other kids as well, hoping to pass his children’s deaths off as the work of one of those mad Halloween poisoners we keep hearing about. None of the other children ate the poison. Ronald Clark “The Candyman” O’Bryan was executed in 1984.

He looks the type.

Candy corn is one of those things you either really love or really hate, apparently. I, for one, really love it, but then again I’ll shove anything sugary into my fat face unless it’s black licorice, fuck that. Anyway, lots of other people apparently also love candy corn, because candy companies make 9 billion pieces of it a year. That’s enough candy corn for everyone on Earth to eat a single kernel each year, and still leave enough for me.

A candy maker called George Renninger invented candy corn all the way back in the 1880s, when “butter crème” candies were popular. Renninger’s sole innovation was to shape the candy like a kernel of corn and layer it in three colors, which made it difficult and time-consuming to produce by hand in the days before factory automation, but I guess the novelty of the thing made up for it. Back then, there was no such thing as sweet corn and only the poorest of the poor ate corn at all, so the candy was marketed and widely known as “chicken feed.”

Mmmm chicken feed.

As I’ve mentioned before, trick-or-treating didn’t really take off in the U.S. until the 1930s, but in the post-World War I period, American candy makers attempted to give us another reason to buy candy in October – “Candy Day,” a manufactured holiday allegedly meant to spread “good will, appreciation and good fellowship” and to educate the public about the – get this – “real food value of candy.” Granted, it was 1916; they were probably still bleeding people and feeding them mercury back then.

A few years later, “Candy Day” was renamed “Sweetest Day” by Herbert Birch Kingston, an advertiser who realized Americans aren’t as stupid as they look, and repackaged as a reason to appreciate widows, orphans, shut-ins and the disenfranchised. The holiday caught on after that, because we all like an excuse to feel good about ourselves without actually doing anything to deserve it, and remained popular all the way up until the 1960s, until it was eventually swallowed by the even-more-popular Halloween, which will eventually be swallowed by Christmas.

There is no Thanksgiving, only Zuul.

Monday, October 21, 2013

I Suck at Watching TV

So the thing is, I’m not actually that good at watching television. I’m just not motivated enough. I was reading Jenn Something Clever’s post “How to Watch Fall TV in 16 Easy Steps,” and thinking to myself, “You lost me at step one.”

I won’t even watch an online video that’s longer than a minute. I’ve got things to do. I’ve got toads to wait for.

She’s committed. I’m not committed. TV thinks I’m commitment-phobic. I think TV is nice but not marriage material.

Perhaps it’s needless to say that I don’t follow programs very well. Sometimes I’ll follow a show fairly well through several seasons, then miss it once for some reason, forget about it altogether, then find it two years later on Netflix and think, “Oh yeah, I was watching that.” I used to watch Game of Thrones but I spaced it two episodes into the third season and they’re probably all dead by now.

Kidding. I’ve read the books. I know that only half of them are dead by now.

Usually I’ll turn the TV on, only to end up grabbing a nearby book (there’s always a nearby book) and looking up two hours later like, “Shit, I left the TV on again. Oops.”

I follow exactly two shows, Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead, because I’m fashionable and shit. Also I didn’t actually follow Breaking Bad for the first four seasons, I just binge-watched them on Netflix. I nearly lost it when I visited some friends in Chicago for Riot Fest, but luckily I remembered that they always show the last episode right before they show the new episode. I’ll definitely lose The Walking Dead if season four doesn’t include more zombie attacks, cause that’s the only reason I watch it, to see who’ll get eaten (hint: I hope it’s Carl).

You might be surprised to learn that I do have a certain fondness for reality television. I was still a kid when The Real World came on so maybe it made some sort of unhealthy impression on my developing brain that presages the awful future, or maybe I just like feeling superior to people (hint: it’s the second thing). 

I like to watch Hoarders: Buried Alive when I’m tempted to feel sorry for myself, because it reminds me that hey, at least I’m not hoarding and buried alive. From time to time I watch Wife Swap the way you’d watch a train wreck if it were an hour long. I keep hoping they’ll swap wives for real, but they never do.

Then again, I guess they can't put THAT show on network television.

Image by imagerymajestic from

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Here's What I've Been Doing Instead of Blogging, Just in Case You Were Curious

I Don't Like Mondays Blog Hop

So Christina Majaski’s started nagging me about not blogging anymore, which is probably fair enough, because as it turns out I haven’t actually blogged since the end of August. Oops.

The last post I wrote was a fantabulous piece debunking brain myths. And I just now realized “fantabulous” was a word only because the spell-checker didn’t flag it. I googled. It’s a word.

I’m sure you’ve all been lying awake at night, clutching your pearls, constantly refreshing your browser window and going on with your lives as you’ve waited for me to post again, and I’m sorry. Longtime readers will know that I periodically disappear for weeks at a time because I can’t handle the pressures of fame. Stop drowning me in hundreds of comments and sacks of fan mail, you guys, I can’t take it.

Here’s what I’ve been doing instead.

Working a Lot

And stressing the f*ck out about it. It’s been pointed out to me that I should be happy just to have work, by people who don’t understand that there’s no way you can say "You have no right to complain, you've got it good" without sounding like a tool.

Celebrated My 29th Birthday Again

I went out for sushi with a couple of my girlfriends like a goddamn grown-up because I am one. The waitress, who didn’t speak English very well and didn’t really understand it that well either, nevertheless figured out that it was my birthday and brought me, I shit you not, a balloon animal hat.

Here I am wearing it.

She and her colleagues gathered around my table and sang “Happy Birthday to You,” which I’m pretty sure is copyrighted, while banging on a drum. I was given a bizarre but not unpleasant dessert. I stoically wore my balloon animal hat for the rest of the night like a goddamn grown-up, because I am one.

Half-Finishing Blog Posts

This one probably goes without saying. Even as I type this I’m thinking that there’s a pretty good chance I won’t even finish this one. The first blog post I didn’t finish was going to be called “31 Things I’ve Learned” and it was going to be my birthday post, but as it happened I could only come up with one thing, because I guess I haven’t learned much, despite having graduated from college.

Incidentally, the one thing was, “If someone who lives or works in the adjacent space asks you if you’ll be bothered by them practicing their instrument every day, ask them to play you a song right then and there before you make your decision.” Yep, that’s what I learned in college. It cost me a hundred grand, but I’m giving it to you for free. You’re welcome.

I also did not finish writing a post about why my cat won’t shut up, why my cat won’t stop peeing in the guest bedroom, and How I Feel About TV. That TV one was supposed to be a #ThemeThursday post but then I didn’t quite finish it on time and now I feel like it’d be weird to post it. Also I just found out that #ThemeThursday is not a thing anymore so I don’t know what that means for me and my homeless, forlorn post about television.

Wondering If I Got a Blog Award That I Forgot to Mention

For weeks now I’ve had the nagging thought that someone gave me a blog award at some point and that I’ve forgotten to mention, linkup and answer those ridiculous survey questions everyone gives out (“You’re stranded on a desert island with Cher, Albert Einstein, and a monkey. How long does the train take to travel from New York to Chicago?”). If you gave me a blog award at any point in the past forever, and I haven’t acknowledged it, please hit me up in the comments.

Cleaning Up Cat Pee in the Guest Bedroom

If you were planning on visiting me, I’d reconsider. The guest bedroom is in a state.