Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Then, a minute later, all the leaves have been blasted out of the tree by a Nor’easter, and it gets dark at four in the afternoon and there are guys in the woods with shotguns.
And there’s no more baseball.
The only thing that raises my spirits is the thought of the blessed holiday season ahead. Christmas, you think? Nope: Halloween.
Sometimes it seems as if Halloween and Christmas have swapped places.
I don’t mind the fact that Halloween is getting more Christmasy all the time; that’s fine with me. But the way in which Christmas is getting to feel more like Halloween? I’m less crazy about that.
I have one neighbor who puts more effort into his Halloween display than his Christmas one. He places a Grim Reaper in his front yard, complete with scythe.
At Christmas, he puts one austere yellow light in his two upper windows.
Last Saturday I went over to my friends Tom and Laura’s for the all-night jam in their barn. I wore a gorilla suit for the occasion, which was hotter than you’d think. We all sang songs together, and then we took “a cup of kindness, yet.” For Auld Lang Syne.
On Tuesday night, I was up at Colby, just as I have been each October 31st for the last 19 years, reading ghost stories for the students with my friend Charlie Bassett in Lorimer Chapel. This year, in addition to Charlie and me, there were a number of singing groups, who joined me in a group performance of the theme song from The Blob.
Beware of the Blob! It leaps and creeps
And glides and slides along the floor
Beneath the door, it’s over on the wall
A blotch, a splotch, Be Careful of the Blob!
By the morning of All Saints, the Boylan household was exhausted from a month of disguise and celebration and the ingestion of a mountain of Kit Kats and Mars Bars and Chunkies. We love Halloween.
Christmas, meanwhile, is a macabre holiday when the dead come back to haunt us.
It was Dickens, of course, who most famously observed that Christmas is the most haunted of holidays, and the older one gets, the more haunted it gets. It’s impossible for me to set up the tree in my mother’s house, for instance, without thinking of the Ghosts of Christmas Past—the father who isn’t there, the sister who doesn’t speak to me any more, all the memories of being a child, back in the prehistoric 1960s, when virtually all of my Christmases were Christmas Futures.
It’s become a cliché, now, for people to speak of their depression at Christmas, but it’s true. So many of us at this time of year, wind up haunted by the ghosts of our younger selves, laid low, as we approach the end of another year, by a sense of the speed with which time slips through our fingers.
The only thing missing from Christmas, sometimes, is a Grim Reaper in your front yard with a scythe.
I love Halloween, and I love how happy my children are at this time of year. Their wild energy makes me feel young again.
But is it too much to ask of this season, that Halloween return to October, and let Christmas be a season of light instead? Would it be so crazy if this year, Christmas was a time of joy, of looking forward, of people celebrating peace, and love, and singing songs together?
It’s a nice wish. But I have a funny feeling I already know what carol I’m going to hear, when I start, once more, to decorate the tree.
Beware of the Blob! It creeps and leaps
And glides and slides along the floor
Beneath the door, it’s over on the wall
A blotch, a splotch…
Be careful of the Blob.
Monday, October 30, 2006
Monday, October 23, 2006
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
I was up to Hunting and Fishing camp the other day, with my Father-in-Law and his brother. We had just enjoyed a splendid day of Grouse hunting, basking in the crisp Autumn air and Golden sunlight of possibly the finest October day in recent memory. We were sitting around the wood stove, aglow from cheap Carlo Rossi wine and too many carbohydrates. We had just settled in to talking politics, when, suddenly, I remembered: the baseball play-offs. Of course, as you know, the beloved Olde Towne team is currently out of the picture. But, the next best thing was on: the Yankees of New York possibly going down in flames against the Tigers of Detroit. I just had to tune in. Which is easier said than done. Being within a Moose's sprint of the Quebec border, most respectable English speaking radio stations are way out of range. But thank God for AM Radio. I tuned in to 880 WCBS just in time to hear the last few innings of what turned out to be the latest play-off choke from Steinbrenner's overpaid minions of the mitt. I thoroughly enjoyed, all too much, hearing all the gory details of the latest melt down, and dire ramifications for next years' team. I could almost hear over the radio, the faint rumblings of Mount Steinbrenner, about to erupt, like Joe Pesci in Good Fellas, waitin' to fuckin' whack Joe Torre as he stepped from the clubhouse, after the loss.
I'll admit I felt a bit ashamed and petty sniffling back my baseball tears of joy, unwept since the miraculous Bosox banner year of '04. It seems, if the Red Flops cannot win, the next best thing would be for the Yankees to lose. As the saying goes, I root for two teams: the Red Sox and any team opposing the Yanks. I maintain that if you don't know what I'm talking about, if you don't feel the same petty way, you are not a true Red Sox fan. We're not used to winning, I'll admit it. But we are used to vendetta, revenge, curses: bizzare ways to explain why it is the baseball Gods are so unfair to us, Red Sox nation. I remember back when I was a kid, at my Grandparents' house, years ago, we were watching the Red Sox play the Yankees at Fenway. It was the bottom of the 9th, tie score, and my old Italian Nanny put the 'Mal Och', the fucking 'evil eye', on Thurmon Munson, a veritable Red Sox killer. "So it's down to this", I thought to myself, "the evil eye. Okay, I'm in".
Anyway, let me put it to you in terms you kids can understand. Let's say your Kevin Federline. And you're married to Brittany Spears. You've had your run; you've cut your album. You've been to all the A-List parties. But eventually, you know it's going to be over. So you and Brittany split up. You hop on the next train to Lonesometowne and watch on TV how Brittany is on tour in Australia, how Brittany is on the cover of People magazine, how Brittany is spotted at Spago's with George Clooney. It eats your fucking heart out. Wouldn't you rather hear that Brittany was dumped by Clooney? Wouldn't it be great to see her get caught for lip-synching on Saturday Night Live? Wouldn't it be awesome to hear her latest album is going down the toilet, especially after how hard you worked on your CD, and how it bombed so miserably? Look, for whatever reason, people seem to think Brittany Spears is hot, even though she is vaccuous and banal, where as you, Kevin Federline, are an aquired taste, a true original. You see where I'm going with this? I thought not. But nobody likes to see their ex- doing well, and I'll be damned if any Red Sox fan wants to see the Bronx Boners do any thing but choke like Mama Cass on a fuckin' chicken sandwich. That's just the way of the world. Pretty or not.
So now, I set my sights on the only other New York team that has a shot at greatness, the Metropolitans, and I remember with great bitterness the World Series of '86. I remember Buckner's Bungle, and I remember Mookie Fuckin' Wilson. I say now what only true Red Sox fans would yell out in a situation like this: GO TIGERS!!!
Oh yeah, and YANKEES SUCK!!
Monday, October 02, 2006
"The, ah, diffarence, my distinguished collegue, is ah, that the Democrats , ah, generally use a bookmark, where as, ah, the GOP prefer their Pages 'bent over' "!
I opened the door and found one Abby Holman, Candidate for State Representative, standing on my porch.
She was about my age, blonde, an intelligent face. Abby gave me one of her campaign brochures. “I hope you’ll be voting in November,” she said.
“I always vote,” I said. “Are you a Democrat or a Republican? You look like a Democrat.”
I can’t tell you exactly what I meant by that, but surely it’s not a very nice thing to say to someone you’ve only just met.
“Republican, actually,” she said.
“Oh, what a shame,” I said. “Okay, well so long!” I began to swing the door closed.
“Wait,” she said. “You’d never vote for a Republican? Ever?”
“Of course I’d vote for a Republican,” I said. “I used to BE a Republican. But you know how it is.”
She raised an eyebrow. “How is it?”
“Well,” I said. “Let me ask you some questions. Your position on abortion?”
“Civil rights and legal protections for gay, lesbian, and transgendered people?”
“I’m for civil rights for everybody.”
“The war in Iraq?”
I took another hard look at Abby Holman, Candidate for State Representative.
“Dude,” I said. “You’re a Democrat. Didn’t you, like, get the memo?”
“I’m a Republican,” she said, “because I want to improve the business climate in Maine. Because I want us to be more responsible with the taxpayers’ money.”
I rubbed my temples. “You heard about the budget deficit, right? You know that when Clinton left office, we had a surplus? And now we have the biggest deficit in history? Cause they just HAD to give Bill Gates a tax cut?”
She nodded. “I’m running for the Augusta State House. Not Washington.”
“I don’t know,” I said. “You still sound like a Democrat to me.”
“I used to be a Democrat,” she said, in kind of the same voice a woman might say, I used to drink a lotta tequila. “But then I left the party in the 1980s. You can be pro-business and still take socially progressive positions.”
I thought about this. “Ya think?” I said.
“What do you think of Olympia Snowe?”
Well, to be honest, there are times I am kind of fond of Olympia Snowe, and Susan Collins too. It’s discouraging for me, as a dyed-in-my-pajamas Democrat, to know that they contribute to the Republican majority in the Senate, but then there are other times I’m delighted that my home state has two moderate, female Republican Senators. There have been plenty of times that Snowe and Collins have been all that has stood between their own party and something I disapprove of, like that time, for instance that the Republicans thought it might be clever to actually impeach a sitting President on account of him having yanked on somebody’s thong underwear.
Not that I’m for that, actually. I just didn’t think he should have been impeached for it. I also wasn’t crazy about having to listen to everyone talk about the man’s kielbasa for a year and a half, considering that there were, like, other things going on in the world that were just possibly more important.
“I like Olympia Snowe all right,” I said.
“I was her press secretary,” she said.
I was getting pretty tired of not disagreeing with her. There were Democrats I had less in common with than this Abby Holman. I’d VOTED for Democrats I had less in common with than the woman on my porch.
“Okay, fine,” I said, a broken woman.
“Thanks,” said Holman, and headed back to her car.
I don’t know who I’m voting for in November. I’m kind of hoping the Democrat turns out to be a single mom who has all of Abby Holman’s positions.
Did I mention she’s a single mom?
But as I stood there, I wondered this: What’s more ridiculous, a woman with all of Holman’s positions, running as a Republican?
Or a woman like me, who wouldn’t consider crossing party lines, even to vote for what she believes in?