Tales of the Idiot

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Spook Story:Waiting for the Great Pumpkin

So this is the week of stories that haunt, and what better day for stories that haunt then Halloween. A misappropriated misunderstood pagan holiday, turned Christian fright fest, then morphed into a reason to dress up like a Transformer great extremely drunk and if your lucky make out with somebody dressed up as a pirate. (Please note if your Bill O’Riley then this is just another Wednesday night).

Houdini or the ultimate Masochist?It’s also the day Houdini died; magic and ghosts do go together like rum and coke. What is weird about Houdini if you ask most Americans to name a magician that is likely to be the one they name, yet he’s been dead most of the average Americans lives, his only film work is silent so its mostly people who have heard about rather then seen.

Halloween is all about ghosts, not to get all Wikki on you but it’s worth noting that the first incarnation of it “Samhain” was according to Eliade’s Encyclopedia of Religion: “The Eve and day of Samhain were characterized as a time when the barriers between the human and supernatural worlds were broken.” In other words: ghosts will walk; druids will dance about Stonehenge and be all druidy.

Halloween itself comes from this same idea: ghosts will walk. However in Christianity that’s not a good thing unless it’s the Holy Ghost in which case it’s cool. Here the idea is if we dress up like ghosts and zombies them maybe they won’t notice us. How this evolved into dressing up as Sponge Bob Squarepants – I haven’t the foggiest. Basically the day is supposed to be a precursor to All-Saints day or in Mexico Día de los Muertos that in turn gave an aesthetic for Oingo Boingo to borrow for all their artwork.Oingo Boingo logo

So the basic premise: if we dress as ghost we won’t be messed with by actual ghosts. The thing is, we tend to do that as an every day tactic, we just have different definitions of what ghosts are. Anyone anywhere who has ever worked at fitting in can back this up. Even while hanging out with reprehensible people we can still disguise our nature, even if its just to avoid being hassled; I spent part of my youth trying to lay the tough guy, unsuccessfully I may add. 6’0, 130 pounds and all of it skeleton ensconced in nerd finery, still I would meet any dare given to me by people I didn’t like simply in the hope of being accepted. Of course it never worked that sort of acceptance always has way too high a price tag, and you’re not buying it, your renting.

For me this is a day of memories: Seventh grade when I was in a production of Macbeth, a 12 week run at a theater in Downtown St. Paul. Macbeth is already a cursed show and Halloween is the double whammy hex, I might not believe in curses but I did get Bronchitis that night, a chronic version I have had ever since. The Halloween Blizzard of ’90, all costumes were hidden under snowsuits. The Halloween of three years ago where I saw literally thousands of crows in a tree, cawing, and flying in a figure eight pattern to another tree half a block away where a smaller number stood perched and cawing as well. (Which is doubly eerie if you have read the previous spook story) That served as an omen to a very bad chapter of my life, oh dear and gentle reader.

One that got repaired and made infinitely better, think bionic, only without the whole mechanized implant thing. Then of course was last year, if the crow day broke the heart of my personal life, then that broke the heart of my professional one. A year later and from a different vantage point I can see that this too has made me stronger, faster and still willing to call foul, even if it costs. It didn’t break me after all, a little scuffed certainly.

William Blake said, “the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom”, and I have had my share of excess but not of the hedonistic variety. Instead to quote the great American thinker Willie Nelson “It’s been rough and rocky travelin’, but I’m finally standin’ upright on the ground. After takin’ several readings, I’m surprised to find my mind`s still fairly sound. I guess Nashville was the roughest, But I know I said the same about them all.”

Or to put it in a slightly less abstract way: it’s by facing our ghosts, our demons, and meeting them head on, we make them powerless. Every children’s story about magic has the villain comes undone when the clever child says the witch’s name (Rumplestiltzken, Baba Yaga, etc). Its never the easy way, but if we don’t face up to our demons we wind up dressing like them… or you know like Optimus Prime.

Optimus prime

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  • a little about me…

    A man of many lives-some know Strouth as the filmmaker who behind the documentary "Unconvention: a Mix Tape from St. Paul" about the 2008 RNC, and M-80, some as a writer, or as a producer and musician and then of course their is the whole getting a kidney transplant over Facebook and Twitter thing.
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