Squirrel Pumpkin Carver

I’ve had these pictures for two years, but forget how I got them.  Perhaps my father or my brother e-mailed them.  Anyway, the whole family likes to see critters in action, so I thought this would be a good time to post them.

I carved my first pumpkin when I was six.  Thus, it’s not hard to do, but the next time I want to carve one, I may want to hire a squirrel to do it:

There are just two drawbacks to letting a squirrel make your Halloween decorations.  First, the design has to be kept simple, inasmuch as the squirrel doesn’t use a carving knife.  Second, your bushy-tailed friend is going to want the seeds as payment for his/her services.  So if you like pepitas, you’re better off doing it yourself.

Slapped Any Martians Lately?

Or maybe coughed on them, since according to the story, they have no immunity to our bacteria.  The story I’m talking about is the classic alien invasion novel, “The War of the Worlds” by H. G. Wells.  This year marks 110 years since it was published, and today marks seventy years since the Mercury Theater caused a nationwide panic, by doing a radio version of the story without adequately warning everyone that it was a dramatization, not a live broadcast of Martians attacking in New Jersey.  If you haven’t heard the broadcast yourself, you can catch it at the link below.  Sometimes I wonder if Orson Welles, the famous actor, would have preferred another way to first get national attention (he was 23 when he played the lead role in this drama).

Internet Archive:  War Of The Worlds

I have been told that a radio program like that won’t scare the American public today, but a TV program might.  Nah, maybe it would have in the 1960s, when we had only three major networks, but today no program or broadcast can control the airwaves, the way the Kennedy Assassination or the Pueblo Incident did.  We had an example last night, when Barack Obama ran his 30-minute campaign infomercial on seven networks.  If you didn’t want to watch, you could still switch channels to something non-political, like the World Series or Animal Planet.  Or you could play a video game or surf the Internet.  If you don’t believe me and you have a TV station, try showing a movie version of “The War of the Worlds” (maybe the recent one starring Tom Cruise) and see if anyone calls to complain.

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas — Or Is It Halloween?

Before I begin, an update from last week.  We’re not talking as much about sports in Lexington as we usually do, except for the World Series.  I wonder if Philadelphia will be ready to handle two riots, one if they win the World Series, and one after the election results are known?

Anyway, we’re not talking as much because of embarrassment over last Saturday’s game between the University of Kentucky and the University of Florida.  The UK Wildcats lost, 63-5.  What a blowout.

On Monday, I heard Jack Pattie, the city’s leading morning DJ, make the annual complaint about the Christmas decorations and hype coming too early.  And this is from a guy who moonlights as Santa Claus every December!  He pointed out that it’s not even Halloween yet, and some stores are full of Christmas decorations already.  Last Sunday, for instance, I dropped in the local Big Lots store to see what was new, and they had at least as much Christmas stuff as Halloween stuff.  I agree; we shouldn’t give Christmas much attention until Santa appears at the end of the Thanksgiving Day parade.  However, I’ve been wondering about a couple of things.

First, Jack Pattie suggested that moving the beginning of the Christmas season earlier each year (what he calls “Christmas Creep”) might be a response to expected poor sales, because the economy is doing so bad right now.  Well, couldn’t it work the other way, too?  Every year I hear news stories declaring that Christmas sales are slower than expected, that this is the worst Christmas the retailers can remember, or that some businesses will close next year if they don’t sell enough this holiday season.  Even in prosperous years, I never hear anybody saying it was a good Christmas for Madison Avenue.  If the merchants are really doing that badly every year, don’t you think that some of them would say something like, “Due to lack of interest, Christmas has been canceled?”

Second, there seems to a blurring of the line between Halloween and Christmas; I’m starting to have trouble telling them apart.  I don’t know what caused it, but I’m guessing that it started twenty years ago, with a delightful movie about both holidays:  “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”  And I probably ought to confess that I contributed toward the trend, by telling my family and friends about CthulhuLives.org, a website that promotes spooky Christmas carols.

Along that line, we have more Halloween decorations appearing outside peoples’ houses every year.  Besides the usual fake tombstones and monsters, we have candles in the windows, as if they’re trying to draw Hanukkah into this, too.  Also Halloween lights, and trees with little pumpkins hanging off them, like Christmas balls.  And the sales of candy, costumes and pumpkins increase every year.

Speaking of pumpkins, when I lived in Florida, the best place to get a pumpkin in October was in front of a church.  I haven’t seen as much of that here; most people seem to prefer shopping for pumpkins at the grocery store, presumably because October nights in Kentucky aren’t as mild as they are in Florida.  Still, for years I have asked the question, “What do pumpkin sales have to do with Christianity?” and nobody has given me a straight answer yet.  Typically it’s the Methodists and Catholics who have the biggest sales, though once I even saw a Baptist church selling pumpkins.  The Methodist church my parents attended had a particularly big sale.  My pastor lived next door to that church, and once he had an Israeli friend, Gershon Salomon of the Temple Mount Faithful Movement, staying in his house.  The pumpkin sale was going on at the time, and I think he was too embarrassed to explain it.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Gershon got the idea that Halloween is just another Christian holiday.

All that we need is for some druid to come along, complain that Halloween has gotten too commercial, and call for going back to the original meaning of the holiday.  In the meantime, I’m getting concerned for Thanksgiving.  Whereas Leive and I ignore Halloween and Christmas almost completely, Leive still fixes a nice Thanksgiving feast, and that poor day is stuck in-between the other two!

A Redneck Pumpkin

Sarah Palin’s in My Old Stomping Ground Again

One week to go until Election Day.  I’ve got a co-worker who is getting increasingly depressed, in part because he doesn’t expect McCain to win.  Myself, I’m in an upbeat mood, and will probably be relieved when it’s all over, regardless of the results.

Yesterday I learned that Sarah Palin made another swing through central Florida last Sunday.  This time she stopped at the Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee, where they have a big rodeo every February & July, and at the Tampa Convention Center.  I’ve been to both places, so this is familiar territory to me.  Elizabeth Hasselbeck, the token conservative on “The View,” gave the introduction; Todd Palin, Sean Hannity and Governor Charlie Crist were there, too.

Here’s a picture from Kissimmee.  Don’t Elizabeth and Sarah make a fine-looking pair?  No wonder the Left is so mad.  Along that line, here’s a picture from 2004 that echoes the same sentiments:

And apparently Craig Ferguson, the late-night talk show host, was the one who first said Sarah looks like a “naughty librarian.”  Here’s a video I discovered this morning of an appearance Sarah made on his show, in 2007 or early 2008 (before the rest of the country had heard of her):

By the way, if you get any trick-or-treaters this Halloween and one of them is dressed like Barack Obama, do me a favor.  Take his candy and re-distribute it among the kids who have less than he does.  It’ll teach him what’s going to happen to us, should the Democrats win.

Did King Solomon See Barack Obama Coming?

No, I’m not talking about the legend that makes him father of the first king of Ethiopia.  I’m talking about two verses I was alerted to this morning in the 24th chapter of the Book of Proverbs, which tell us what to do if Obama wins the election next week:

24:21 My son, fear thou the LORD and the king:
and meddle not with them that are given to change:
24:22 for their calamity shall rise suddenly;
and who knoweth the ruin of them both?

Yes, we know how Obama promises “change” more than anything else.  I just hope I have more than just change left, by the time he’s done.  Of course, with the polls being what they are, McCain could still pull an upset, like Harry Truman did in 1948.  If that happens, kindly disregard this message.

Confused Clocks and Broken Pots

The balikbayan boxes that we sent to the folks in the Philippines (see the August 1 and August 18 entries) arrived on Saturday morning, Friday night our time.  All the contents seem to have survived the slow boat all right, so for the in-laws, Christmas came exactly two months early.  Good show for the deliverymen!  The youngest boy, Japhet, tried to claim all the candy for himself, but I think they persuaded him it’s for everybody (LOL).

This morning when we got up, the clock in the bedroom said 6:45.  On a weekday morning, I’d be on the road to work by then, but today it was brighter outside than I expected.  Then when I looked at another clock, it said 7:45!  The bedroom clock is one of those “smart clocks” that sets itself when you plug it in, and it thought Daylight Savings Time had ended, like it used to on the last Sunday of October.  Thus, it moved itself back an hour.  I guess I’ll have to reset it next month; when does DST end, anyway?

In previous messages I let everybody know I’ve never liked Daylight Savings Time.  Recently I heard somebody say that trying to get a longer day by moving the clocks an hour is like trying to get a longer carpet by cutting off one end of it, and sewing that piece to the other end!

Meanwhile in the Philippines, some smugglers on Mindanao were caught with a collection of broken pots, in an unusual style featuring human faces and arms.  The local archaeologists say they are at least 2,000 years old, and come from a tribe that no longer exists.  Unfortunately, the pieces are from Sarangani, a province infested with Moslem rebels as well as smugglers, so it will be a challenge to find more pots, or to learn about the people who made them.

Artifacts Discovery Might Lead to Lost Tribe

And this may sound familiar.  Remember how back in the bad old days of the Soviet Union, the Russians claimed they were the first to invent everything?  Well, they’re doing it again.  A neolithic campsite has been found at Khabarovsk, in east Siberia, with stone knives, axes, scrapers, arrowheads and simple earthenware.  Because it has been dated as 15,000 years old, Russian archaeologists are using it to claim that their country was the first to cultivate land, herd cattle and make pottery.  That’s a lot to claim from just one site, especially one so far away from other interesting sites.  Russian pride was an ongoing joke when Walter Koenig, as Ensign Pavel Chekhov, was a character on Star Trek (“This looks like the Garden of Eden, Mr. Chekhov.” “I know, Captain, it’s just outside Moscow.”).  The fictional Chekhov hasn’t been born yet, has he?  I know there are towns in Iowa and Scotland, claiming to be the future birthplaces of Captain Kirk and Scotty.

Russians the First Potters on Earth?

DO NOT Eat This More Than Once

I think we all know by now that most of the fast food out there isn’t very good for us.  I ate out quite a bit during the six and a half months when I was in Kentucky and Leive was in Florida, because I’m not a very good cook, but not since she arrived in the Bluegrass State.  These days, if we do go out for a meal, we’ll first consider the healthier restaurant chains, like Subway and Chipotle, and only occassionally go to a burger or fried chicken joint.  That may change after we adopt the kids we’ve been supporting in the Philippines; I suspect they’ll like Captain D’s, because they’re used to having seafood already.

I also thought it was funny when I read in 2005, that for its Japanese advertisements, McDonald’s replaced their famous clown with a sexy redhead (Ronald Becomes a McHottie!), and claimed that if you eat enough of their food, a thousand years from now your descendants will grow up big and white like the Americans.  Yeah, right.  Big, white — and wide.

Now Frank Sodolak, a restaurant owner in Snook, TX, has invented a dish that seems designed for those who want to commit suicide by clogging their arteries.  It’s called chicken-fried bacon.  Bacon strips fried in the same batter and grease used to make fried chicken.  Whew, I think I gained a pound just from looking at it!

Mr. Sodolak claims this recipe is a way for his customers to test their self-control, and that it could make him the next Colonel Sanders.  Well, chicken-fried bacon may have put his restaurant on the map, but I don’t think he’ll live to be 90, the way the Colonel did, if he eats his product.