An Afternoon with Hitchcock

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by Lisa Dinsmore

psycho_40.jpgGrowing up I was generally a very agreeable child. I did what I was told and rarely pushed the envelope. So why did I go against my father’s better judgment and watch PSYCHO, even though he told me I’d regret it when I woke up with nightmares?

Well, I was 14-years-old and I guess it was my way of proving to him and myself that I was a mature young adult who couldn’t be scared by a silly, old black and white movie. I had never heard of Hitchcock or this film and had no idea what to expect. Besides it was on in the middle of the afternoon, where children younger than me could see it, so how scary could it really be?

I had tested my capacity for horror a few times before and was smart enough to know the answer. Secretly watching JAWS when I was eleven had kept me out of the ocean since, but I didn’t consider that much of a sacrifice because I hated swimming and didn’t live anywhere near a beach. Plus, shark attacks DO happen, so my behavior wasn’t completely irrational. Almost drowning in the ocean had already made me wary of the water, JAWS just sealed the deal.

Halloween at Park Towne Place

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by Emily Fox

j0422837.jpgIn Philadelphia there is an apartment complex on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway called Park Towne Place. It is a cluster of four high rises – cleverly called East, West, North and South. I had three friends who lived there – Laura, Adam and Erik – and most years I spent Halloween night with them, riding the elevators in our costumes and tearing through the hallways, ringing every bell we could get our little hands on in an effort to collect maximum quantities of candy.

It was widely understood that trick-or-treating in an apartment building was the most efficient way to trick-or-treat, and for that reason Park Towne Place was the ne plus ultra because there were four apartment buildings arranged in one lucky clover shape – the prospect of that much candy simply boggled the nine-year-old mind. Our method was to exit the elevator, dash up and down the hallways ringing every bell, and then we’d wait a breathless moment to see who answered their door.

My Encounter with an Incan Witch

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by Laura Johnson

moms.jpgIt was Halloween 1976 and the movie showing in town that week was "Carrie." Back then it didn't really matter what was playing because my Mother and her best friend, Mrs. Mary Lynde had made a pact, which is still standing to this day and I think it went like this, "We will go out every Saturday night with our husbands, first meeting at one of our houses to have two Jack Daniels and diet Sprite and then to a restaurant without any of our children." It's only been in the past few years that I have been invited out with them on an occasional Saturday night. 

Mother and Mrs. Mary Lynde had seven children between the two of them when they were in their 20's, which I can't imagine. Many people thought we were all one family or at least cousins because we were always together.  I can only imagine how much they must have looked forward to Saturday nights.

Dreamgirls and Ophelias

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by Pamela Felcher

dragqueen.jpgI live in West Hollywood, where Halloween is like a national holiday – arrangements for street closures have been made well in advance and people from all over will come watch the flagrant and the flamboyant, the political and the theatrical,  the absurd and the sublime march along Santa Monica Boulevard, from La Cienega to Doheny. Candy is not an integral part of this spectacle and frankly that's the only thing that rankles me about it.

One year, the Wicked Witch of the West wheeled along the Boulevard with an enormous crystal ball that housed terrorized miniatures – Dorothy, Toto, and the other Oz pilgrims were all cowering on the yellow brick road within her bubble. Another year, there were several Menendez brothers, wearing blood covered v-neck sweaters and conservative haircuts. Then another year, there were groups of huddled Titanic musicians playing desperately as their ship was sinking (or, I should say, as the parade was passing them by).

The Great Pumpkin

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by Molly O'Neill

From the NY Time Magazine

bigpumpkins.jpgFor anyone who grew up near Circleville, Ohio, the possibilities of pumpkin are a measure of one's maturity, one's level of sophistication, the depth of one's world view. There, in a town that would otherwise be unknown, is the Circleville Pumpkin Show -- four days of unabashed Americana that, since 1903, have featured seven parades each year and a range of pumpkin contests to rival the Olympics. The medium is accorded such respect that the farmer who produces the largest pumpkin is considered agriculture's own Einstein. The premier pumpkin carver is accorded an awe worthy of Michelangelo.

And Miss Pumpkin. Well, the real mystery about Marilyn Monroe is how she became an American icon without ever being crowned with pumpkin vines and riding astride the float that looks like Cinderella's carriage, far above the rest of us. There we were: hundreds of June and Ward Cleaver couples, holding the hands of little boys who harbored ideas of planting firecrackers inside jack-o'-lanterns and little girls like me, who were worried about slipping knee socks and the possible consequence of a brisk fall wind under our pleated skirts. We all cheered Miss Pumpkin.

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Spice Up Your Autumn

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by Sue Doeden

From All About Food

pumpkins_on_the_stand.jpgIt was a sunny afternoon during the last week of September. I was driving up and down rolling hills and rounding curves as I enjoyed the scenery along a Minnesota county road. I knew it was autumn when I saw a large, can’t-miss-it sign that announced Grandpa’s Pumpkin Patch. I slowed down and pulled into the driveway, even as I thought to myself this was a place to visit with a carload of young children.

Bright pumpkins in all shapes and sizes were piled in long rows, basking in the September sun. I grabbed one of the big wagons parked near the pumpkins and began filling it up as I strolled through the impressive display. I never saw Grandpa. I wanted to thank him for sorting the pumpkins by size and for having all the little pie pumpkins in a pile by themselves. I wound up with several of those cuties in my wagon.

These edible, orange winter squash are not all created equal. The big, bright, deep-ribbed pumpkins that make the best Jack-o-lanterns don’t make the best pie. And they don’t make the best Spicy Pumpkin Dip.

Fall in Maine

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by Brenda Athanus

pigroast.jpgOne of the ways fall is celebrated in Maine is with an annual pig roast that has been going on for the last 25 years thrown by four generations of the Hammond family. Once you're invited you always have an invitation. The patriarch Skip is in his mid-eighties and his wife is much younger by two years. They were married in the next town but got their blood test by a local doctor in Belgrade, who when he took blood from Skip’s wife couldn’t get it to fill the vial so he said to Skip give me some of your blood to fill the vial. The doctor then pronounced them husband and wife. They have been married for 60 years so far.

The pig roast started as a prelude to hunting season when a caterer would drive all night from South Carolina with six 80-pound pigs and masses of ground corn for the mountain of hush puppies. People brought all their best desserts and the table groaned under the weight. Over the years more tables have been set up and there is everything imaginable from bean hole beans to salads and deviled eggs of every know variation. The past 10 years clams and lobstershave also been cooked over a roaring oak wood fire pit. There are many people having their first and only lobster of the year and everyone wears a big contented smile of appreciation.

The Season to be Eating in Hungary

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by Sue Doeden

budapest_1010_072.jpgIt was pumpkin season in Hungary when I was visiting there in early October. On a ride through the countryside, bright orange pumpkins could be spotted in yards, laying in the warm sunshine, probably waiting to be carved into a jack-o-lantern. Signs at restaurants announced the celebration of pumpkin week. Restaurants in Hungary are very mindful of using local, seasonal ingredients on their menus.

A chalkboard sign outside of Anno Taverna Restaurant in Balatonszárszón, a little village on the south side of Lake Balaton in the Hungarian countryside, announced they were celebrating pumpkins that week. My two traveling partners and I pulled the car into the small parking lot and chose an outdoor table to enjoy the October sunshine while we had lunch.

Autumn Awakening

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by Hartley Casbon

fall-leaves.jpgI remember it like it was yesterday – laying in bed, completely entranced in the fiery excitement of it all. It was nothing I had ever experienced. My senses were heightened, an obsession had begun.

I was experiencing my first real autumn. 

Growing up in New Orleans, fall was something that just … happened. The days went from excessively hot, to a little less hot, to bearably warm with the occasional jolt of cold (Cold, of course, being temperatures in the 50s. Brrrr). The leaves bypassed that whole color-change thing everyone always talks about. It was green to dead and that was that.

That is, until I began my freshman year in Maryland at Goucher College. As I plucked away at my snooze button, cursing the existence of a 9:30 am class, I rolled over and froze. There they were – red, orange, yellow and every combination between the three.

Once I was able to tear myself away from the window, I sprinted down the hall. “Have you seen them? They’re beautiful!”


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