Thursday, October 29, 2009

Halloween is coming!

It's that time of the season when one day it's hot and the next day it's cold. Rainy one day, sunny the following day. Football season is in full swing (pun) while baseball is coming to a close (will the Yankees do it again?) and basketball is making its first push. I love it! In October you seem to get all four seasons packed into just 31 days.

And then comes Halloween. I remember when I was a kid, Halloween was the second greatest day of the year behind Christmas. You got to dress up in your favorite costume (I was usually a ghost because it was cheap and easy) and go door to door in your neighborhood saying "trick or treat", and amazingly people would put candy in your bag, bucket, grocery sack, whatever you could find that was big enough to hold a neighborhoods worth of candy (I used a pillow case). Then you'd go home and pour out all that candy on the floor and separate it into your favorites (Snickers, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Butterfingers, Tootsie Roll's) and the one's that weren't your favorites. You'd hide your favorites for later (although I would have to have a couple of favorites to begin with) and start in on the others that were good but not as good, and you'd be happy to share this candy with anyone who would like some. You'd eat candy until you couldn't eat anymore! Good times.

Then came the year that someone in our neighborhood (mind you I grew up in a nice neighborhood) put razor blades in some apples. Halloween was never the same. After that, for Halloween we could only go to peoples houses that our parents knew. Right then, our haul of loot went from 200 homes to about 20-30. Bummer to say the least. Then came stories of people poisoning candy with syringes making it difficult to tell if someone had tampered with it. My parents then made us pour out our candy, and they would inspect each piece individually. It really took a lot of the fun out of Halloween.

Here in the last decade or so, I've noticed that Halloween has made a resurgence of sorts. More kids are getting out and trick or treating and they're going to every house that has a light on, looking for that sugary treasure. I even see more adults decorating for Halloween. My neighbor down the street always has a mini haunted house. He has probably a dozen life-sized monsters that move and talk as well as one larger than life monster (it's a huge pumpkin ghoul about 10 feet tall and it scares me) and a bunch of other scary creatures that he makes you walk through to get to his treats. People come from all over the Katy area just to see what he's going to do each year. It's really great to see cars parked all up and down my street with parents and their children, in costume, heading towards Don's house. Did I mention he plays that scary music from the movie Halloween? He does. It's creepy.

So Halloween is back right? For now, but they're trying to take it away again. I keep hearing in the news that Halloween has too many religious overtones, and that with the separation of church and state in this county, we need to get rid of this special day because it may offend some people. Get serious! For one, if anybody was ever offended, why haven't we heard of it. I mean they want to get rid of Halloween before it offends someone. That's a new one on me. Preemptive offensive. Is that an oxymoron?

Well, I did some checking, and it seems Halloween has almost no religious overtones. And, the religious overtones it has, were put there by the church in the 9th century to dampen the effect of the pagan festival that took place on that day.

The Pagan festival that took place on October 31st each year was called Samhain, a festival to celebrate the end of the "lighter half" of the year and to usher in the "darker half" of the year. It was also believed that on this day, the spirit world had an easier time of crossing over to the living world. Hence the costumes, which were made to keep the bad spirits away.

Now stay with me here. The word Halloween comes from "All Hallows Eve", which is the eve of "All Saints Day". All Saints Day was on May 13th of each year until Popes Gregory III and Gregory IV moved it to November 1st, which back in the era of the Florentine calendar, each new day started at sunset of the previous day (October 31st). With the Gregorian calendar, All Saints Day is now on November 1st. So Halloween is celebrated the day before, or the eve (e'en, evening) of a religious event, not the event itself.

So what do we do? Do we change the name of Halloween back to Samhain? Or do we get rid of Halloween altogether? Or move All Saints Day back to May 13th? Maybe we should just let people decide if they want to take part in an age-old tradition that started well before this country existed! If you don't want to be part of Halloween, don't. If you do, let's go trick or treating!

Question. When did we quit getting to choose?

Until next time,


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mike McGuff

If you don't already know, Mike McGuff has been blogging about me and my where abouts for the past several months now. I've given him an exclusive interview and wanted to post it here for all of you who subscribe to my blog. Thanks for your support, and go check it out.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Guest Host on "The Sports Animal" 790 KBME

This just in!

Just a quick blurb. I wanted to let you know I'll be guest hosting with Ted "The Monster" Deluca on KBME 790 AM tomorrow morning Tuesday October 13th, 2009 from 6am-8am and again from 11am-3pm if he'll still have me. With as much as Ted knows about sports and as little as I know (save for Tiger Woods) about sports, I wouldn't be surprised if Ted decides to fly solo for the second part, but I will give it my best shot. If you would like to call in, I would welcome the support. Their phone number to the studio is 713-212-5790. If you want to listen on-line just go to their website and they provide a link.

Talk to you soon.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Festa Italiana Houston!

Welcome back!

Houston's tribute to all things Italian is coming! Festa Italiana will be at The University of St. Thomas (3800 Montrose) October 16-18.

For the past several years they've had Festa Itialiana at the Farm and Ranch Club at Bear Creek Park, not the greatest place for a festival of this nature (maybe a rodeo), but it was a place for Italians to get together and party and it was close to my home which made it awfully convenient. I have to give the Farm and Ranch Club props because they did have plenty of parking. For a while they did have the Italian Festival downtown in front of City Hall which most people (not including myself) think was the best place to have it. It did bring in the crowds, that's for sure, but it didn't' have that Italian feel. It was just a big party where you could get some good chicken marsala over a bed of orzo from Piatto's restaurant (now that was some good stuff). Unfortunately, 9/11 happened and not only did the world change as we know it, it brought attendance to a festival in a downtown of any major city to record lows. Festa Italiana suffered greatly. My favorite place they've had the festival is when it was at St. Anne's Church on the corner of Westheimer and Shepherd. The architecture was very Roman and you felt like you were in Italy. My fondest memories are from those days (the wine, the women...). Before then and before my days at the Italian Festival (I've been going for 19 years now) they held it behind Sacred Heart Hall from 1978-1990.

This year we head to the University of St. Thomas and start a new era of Festa Italiana memories. Here's the details. The festival runs three days from Friday October 16th through Sunday the 18th. All three days the gates open at 11am. Here's a tip, if you get in the gates before 4pm Friday, admission is free! So, get there early. Friday and Saturday the gates close at 10pm (that's way to early) and Sunday the gates close at 6pm. How much does it cost? Kids 12 and under get in free and everybody else is only $6.00.

Let's talk parking. Now there are plenty of places to park for free if you can find them, just make sure you don't park in a tow-away-zone. But for those who want to make sure that won't happen, you can park in the Moran Center Parking Garage for just $2.00 (save some money because you pay when you leave). My guess is that garage will fill pretty quickly.

So, what can you expect at this years festival? Plenty! Let's see, there's a grape stomping contest on Saturday, a sidewalk art contest, a bocce ball tournament, pasta eating contest and the Italian-American Idol Competition! There will be three stages this year, the entertainment stage, the educational stage and the epicurean stage (which is educational as well). Let's not forget the kids. There will be marionette puppet shows, a petting zoo, pony rides, those inflatable slides and moonwalks you see at birthday parties and a rock climbing wall.

There will be plenty of food from local restaurants (and it will all be good), pastries, wine, beer and arts and crafts from local artisans as well as native Italians. There will be something for everyone in the family.

Of course if you need more information, you can go to their website Festa Italiana and you can get all the details I'm not willing to expand on here or just click on the links above.

It's going to be a great weekend of fun, family and frivolity and the beginning of a new chapter in Italian Festival history in Houston. The location is centralized and should bring in more patrons, so it will be crowded, weather permitting. I hope the weather holds up because I won't be able to take my wife's complaints about her hair and the humidity (I'll be sleeping in the dog house tonight). If you're going, make sure you look me up and say hello. I'll just be wandering around with my brother-in-laws checking out the sights!

See you there!