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Sunday Newsletter 2000-18Su.

October 29, 2000.

This issue I have dedicated almost entirely to the phenomenon known as Hallowe'en. Virtually all features here have a connection to this October event, except our biography, some birthday wishes, and the music memories I promised you last week. So, on with the "illusionary" show.



There are five movies so far in the "Hallowe'en" series that star a particularly evil character. The first movie, and its sequels, were followed last year by "Hallowe'en H2O" (or, as it could also be called, "The 20th anniversary of Jamie Lee's Troubles"). Next year, in 2001, you can expect "Hallowe'en H2K: Evil Never Dies" to provide the setting for this evil character to continue his exploits. His persona is probably known to the world as readily as that of Freddy Krueger, the villain from the "Nightmare on Elm Street" series. The character I allude to shares his name with a famous Canadian comedian. Can you name this screen villain?

The answer appears later in the newsletter, near the bottom.



k.d. lang (born Kathy Dawn Lang).

Born on November 2, 1961, in Edmonton, Alberta, k.d. lang, as she prefers to be known, grew up in the small community of Consort, Alberta (current population around 650). Besides sharing a birth date with your's truly (the birth year is different, but I'll let you guess that), lang was the youngest of four children born to Adam and Audrey Lang.

In the nearby town of Castor, Alberta, k.d. studied piano at the Theresetta Convent, then switched to guitar. She began writing songs of her own while still in her teens. She also studied music and voice in Red Deer, Alberta, at Red Deer College, where she became passionate about the performing arts. Her devotion to country music, manifested in particular with her avowed love of country legend Patsy Cline's style, began when she acted in the play "Country Parade".

lang paid tribute to her country roots on "Shadowland" (recorded in Nashville with Patsy Cline's producer, Owen Bradley), on which album she was backed up by her band "The Reclines". In 1989 she won Grammy Awards for her work on "Absolute Touch" and "Twang".

In the early '90s she disbanded "The Reclines" and switched to a more cultivated adult pop sound for the album "Ingenue" (1992). It sold over one million copies and earned her another Grammy. Subsequent albums have not acquired the following that "Ingenue" possessed, but she has continued to evolve in the pop / rock genre with the 1997 release of "Drag", which typified her elegant interpretations of songs by Steve Miller and "The Hollies".

I have attended two different concerts featuring k.d.; one when she was a headliner, four years ago, and then another, a few months ago, where she backed up Sting. Both times I thoroughly enjoyed the show and was equally impressed by lang's energy, enthusiasm and the overall good feeling she bestowed on the crowd as she performed.



So what was Canada's top selling music from 20 years ago?

"Pop Muzik", by the group "M" (a one hit wonder).
"Rapper's Delight", by the Sugarhill Gang (another one hit wonder).
"Another Brick in the Wall", by Pink Floyd.
"Call Me", by Blondie.
"Funky Town", by Lipps Inc.
"It's Still Rock and Roll To Me", by Billy Joel.
"Emotional Rescue", by the Rolling Stones.
"All Out Of Love", by Air Supply.
"Another One Bites the Dust", by Queen.
"Woman in Love", by Barbara Streisand.
and at the bottom,
"(Just Like) Starting Over", by John Lennon.

"Funky Town" narrowly beat out "Rapper's Delight" and "Starting Over" for song of the year.

(The eighties... ahh, it's all coming back to me now. --Craig.)



For the 13 days prior to Hallowe'en, Montreal celebrates with its annual October Macabre Festival. During this festival, Montreal showcases live concerts, films, and multi-media, all of which lead up to October 31.

Not only does the festival have some of today's brightest stars perform live shows, it also hosts an exclusive film series, and has Hallowe'en surprises galore! The Macabre is not just an autumn entertainment extravaganza -- it also serves as a fundraising event. The concert series promoters are proud to announce that the benefits raised are going to the Missing Children's Network.



"Was that the Bogey Man?" asks Jamie Lee Curtis.

"As a matter of fact, it was," responds Donald Pleasence.

--From the first "Hallowe'en" movie in 1978.



Ghoulish Gooey Bars


1/4 cup butter or margarine.
2, 16 oz. Snickers candy bars (no substitutions please) cut in pieces.
40 marshmallows
2 cups Corn Chex Cereal
2 cups Rice Chex Cereal
2 cups Wheat Chex Cereal


Butter a 9-inch-square pan. In large saucepan over low heat, melt butter. stir in one candy bar and marshmallows. Cook, stirring, until melted and smooth. Gradually add cereals, stirring until all pieces are coated. Stir in remaining candy bar. Press into pan. Cool. Cut into squares.

Sent to me from a reader who got it from a Ms. Bass last year.



I would like to pass along birthday greetings to Sandra of Victoria. Sandra is one of our original subscribers and turns 29 (for the third or fourth time, I can't quite remember) this Monday, October 30th.

(And let's not forget your birthday, John, this coming Thursday. You 29 again too? --Craig)



Here are a number of links you may want to fool around with during the next few days. Most of them are Canadian in nature, but a few are based in the USA. To find the links, go to today's resources page.

The Hallowe'en Corner

Hallowe'en Assembly Photos

Health Canada warnings against the use of certain candles and flashlights

CANOE's "Fright Night in Canada"

Hallowe'en background images for your computer

Hallowe'en links from Detroit Download Central (this one is my favourite non-Canadian Hallowe'en site)

Unitarian Church All Hallows Eve sermon

It is probably too late for this year, but please bookmark this Lower Mainland site that deals in costumes. It is based in Delta, BC -- PretendWare Clothing



Two of my least favourite traditional holidays each year are Hallowe'en and Christmas. Call me Scrooge if you like, but I simply do not like the commercialism associated with these dates. A couple of perfect examples of Hallowe'en becoming (I think it has already happened) an adult related event rather than a pleasurable one for children, are these two passages found on two different Web sites, each promoting Hallowe'en:

"This Tuesday is Hallowe'en night in Canada. Too bad we didn't change the night to Saturday, but we didn't, so expect the kids on Tuesday evening to terrorize your neighbourhood. This leaves Saturday night for parents to party. We can do it either before or after the actual date, but before is preferable (it's a better excuse to give the cops if they pull you over). Check out what's happening for a great line up of events this weekend."

Also found: "I think Hallowe'en turns on the two month party switch. First, there is a big Hallowe'en bash then before you know it we are all sitting zonked watching the Thanksgiving football games. By the time we recover from this the parties roll into high gear with Christmas and New Years." (I think this person just needs an excuse to drink.)

I will not list these links!



One Hallowe'en a trick-or-treater came to my door dressed as "Rocky", all decked out in boxing gloves and satin shorts. Soon after I gave him some goodies, he returned for more. "Aren't you the same 'Rocky' who left my doorstep several minutes ago?" I asked. "Yes," he replied, "but now I'm the sequel. I'll be back three more times tonight too!"

The Top Ten Reasons Why Trick-Or-Treating Is Better Than Sex:

10. You are guaranteed to get at least a little something in the sack.

9. If you get tired, wait 10 minutes, then go at it again.

8. The uglier you look, the easier it is to get some.

7. You don't have to compliment the person who gave you candy.

6. The person giving you candy doesn't fantasize you're someone else.

5. If you get a stomach ache, it won't last 9 months.

4. If you wear your Batman mask, no one thinks you're kinky.

3. It doesn't matter if the kids hear you moaning and groaning.

2. There's less guilt the next morning.

And the number one reason why trick-or-treating is better than sex:

1. If you don't get what you want, you can always go next door!



First of all, here are a few things you'll need to know to understand the history better:

* Druids were members of a religious order that included priests, prophets, poets and soothsayers. They were found along side the ancient Celts of Britain, Ireland and Gaul, where they were powerful leaders and judges until the advent of the Christian religion pushed them aside.

* Gaul was a country of ancient Western Europe and occupied roughly the same territory as modern day France.

* Hallow means "to make sacred or holy, or to honour as holy or sacred."

* All Saint's Day, from the Christian church, is a day that commemorates all the saints of the church. It is celebrated on November 1. In Medieval England, it was known as All Hallow's Day.


The ancient Druids placed great importance on the passing of one season to the next, holding "fire festivals" to mark their transitions. The fire festival for this time of year (recognized now almost a month earlier with the change from fall to winter) was called "Samhain" (pronounced sha-von). During this time the Druids believed that the boundaries between our world and that of the dead were weakened, thus allowing the spirits of the recently dead to cross over and possess the living.

Samhain was not only considered to be a gateway for spirits to travel through -- it also occupied the spot on the Celtic calendar marked for the beginning of their New Year. Therefore they wanted one last party prior to hunkering down for the winter months. They would dress up in bizarre, outlandish and eccentric costumes and party through their villages and hamlets, causing destruction in order to scare off any prowling, recently departed souls. This annual festival was adopted by the Roman invaders who then re-seeded the ritual in all the lands they then conquered (which just happened to be almost the entire known world of the time).

With November 1 being denoted as All Hallows Day (All Saints Day) in ancient England, the night before was referred to as Hallows Eve. It became tradition to start the Samhain on this evening so as to not interfere with the religious happenings of the next day. Hallows Eve, over time, became simply, Halloween (Hallows evening) or, Hallowe'en.

When the tradition spread westward across the Atlantic and into the New World (the Americas) by the migrants to this land, they discovered a new plant growing in abundance that matured prior to the Samhain. This, of course, was the pumpkin. As pumpkins were not available in the Old World, the Druids would have their children carve out large potatoes or turnips and place candles within them. These were then placed in strategic positions, such as the doorways and the windows, in their dwellings. These lanterns were thought to scare off the spirits, as well as serve notice to the revellers that the abode was occupied by children and thus not to be harmed.

Over the years things have changed a bit and with these changes came a less harmful celebration of the night, as practiced upon our shores. The traditional use of pumpkins, being a fruit of such great size, also changed, as only one was needed to ward of the spirits.

The Jack O' Lantern, as we now know it, was once that hollowed out potato or turnip. As told in Irish folklore, the origins of the Jack O' Lantern are found in a tale told of a prankster and drunk by the name of Jack.

One night Jack tricked the devil into climbing a tree. He then quickly carved an image of Old Scratch across the trunk of the tree, thereby trapping the devil there (the belief of the time had it that he could not cross his own image). Jack then made him promise, as part of a deal that would allow the devil his freedom, that in exchange for letting him out of the tree, the Devil would never again tempt him to sin. The devil reluctantly agreed, but exacted his revenge upon Jack's death. For the devil had already known, at the time of the deal, that Jack had been barred from heaven for his previous pranks and his bad ways. Now, after his death, the devil was also barring Jack from hell. Jack was now doomed to wander the earth until the end of time, with only a single ember, carried in a hollowed out turnip, to warm himself and light his way. The news caused Jack to display such horror, that it forever froze upon his face. It is Jack's face on that pumpkin.



With my statement earlier about being a humbug at Hallowe'en, I must say that I still believe (in theory) that this should be a safe and fun night out... for children. Let's keep the drunks and party goers at home. There are plenty of other nights of the year when they can get loaded, so let's keep them off the road this night while our children are out on the streets in abundance.

For those of you with children, take them out and watch them carefully. Remember, children are like puppies on this night and it is unpredictable what they will do from one second to the next.

For those without children, or with ones grown up, my favourite way to spend the evening is to get a few scary videos and snuggle up at home after the kids are all done.

There are hundreds of appropriate movies for this time of the year, and they always seem to be somewhat better when watching them on Hallowe'en. Besides the "Hallowe'en" slasher series, you can also get everything from the 1981 "Kung Fu Hallowe'en", to the 1979 "Casper Saves Hallowe'en". So if you want to take my advice, stay inside and let this be the children's night out, like it was when I was a pirate!



Five weeks ago, in issue 13 of this newsletter, I stated; "This week is lucky issue number 13, and if you are truly worried about this number then you would be considered as suffering from triskaidekaphobia, or the fear of the number thirteen."

Besides getting a couple of e-mail messages thanking me for letting readers know this term, I also got one from a reader who said, in part, "I don't remember the exact term, but I think the word 'triskaidekaphobia' is incorrect. I seem to remember the word beginning with the letter 'P'."

Just to let you know that I am generally on top of things here at FactsCanada, I spent the next two hours researching this simple statement, wondering if my memory was wrong. Well it was not!

Triskaidekaphobia is indeed the fear of the number thirteen. However, there is another term; "Paraskevidekatriaphobics". This describes those afflicted with a morbid, irrational fear of Friday the 13th, not just the number 13.



Michael Myers is the evil character in "Hallowe'en", and Mike Myers, of Scarborough, Ontario, is the comedian, most recently known for his Austin Powers movies.


The three of us wish you and your children (if you have them) a happy and safe Hallowe'en. We also hope that you remembered to "fall back" this morning, setting your clocks and watches back one hour. Of course, this might not apply to you where you are, but it does to us here in BC. See you next week.



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