The Early Years: Party Time! Excellent!

So last week I posted a scan of an old mimeograph of the rules for first grade; these rules indicated that there would be in-school parties for Halloween, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day, and I mentioned that I remembered the Halloween parties and the distribution of Valentine’s Day cards from everyone to everyone, but that I didn’t really remember the Christmas parties. Because my folks read the blog—they were, of course, the source of the giant pile of elementary school era documents from which I pull my posts for “The Early Years”—my father sent along a few pictures of some of those long-ago festivities. I don’t know if these are specifically from first grade or not (I’m no good at figuring out how old kids [including my past self] are just by looking at them), but they’re definitely from elementary school, I can tell that much …

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The Early Years: Old School (Rules)

It’s been quite a while since I went poking around in the stack of paperwork and whatnot from my elementary school days (a document trove even larger than my pile of rejection letters), so I thought that this week I would go fishing in there and see what I came up with. And lo! I found an ancient mimeograph of the ancient Rules for First Grade from many years ago. It’s not quite as old as the Code of Hammurabi, but on the other hand, it’s not as well preserved. Let’s have a look!

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I Want Candy

So as I mentioned over on my other (much more popular) blog, when we had Dennis, our fearful vizsla, on Halloweens, we abandoned the practice of answering the door and handing out candy directly, instead putting out a big box of candy and a sign and dispensing it on the honor system*. Generally, this has worked out fine; there was only one year where, when we went to the collect the box at the end of the evening, we found its contents completely emptied (and, if I remember correctly, the box itself was out in the yard). This year, although there’s no Dennis around, there is a pandemic, and so there was no chance at all we would be interacting with ghosts and Batmen and princesses and whatnot**, and so, we put out the box and the sign and it was business as usual.

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“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” Board Game: Halloween

Having recently finished (more or less) getting Television Man out the door, I’m taking a little break before starting my next project (because of course I have one) to do something I haven’t done in the past — ask indie book blogs for reviews.  For those who might be looking to do the same, there’s a good list of indie book reviewers at The Indie View, sortable by date, searchable by genre, that you can use as a resource to find people who might be interested in writing a few words about your novel.  None of the review sites listed at The Indie View charge for reviews.

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Not A Review Of “Event Horizon”

So October seems to have been my month for getting caught up on movies I should have seen long ago, but didn’t.  A few weeks ago, it was 1997’s “Contact“; and on Halloween, I finally got around to seeing the cult SF/horror film “Event Horizon“, also from 1997.

Event Horizon: Coming soon to VHS!

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The Early Years: Jack-O’-Lantern

A while back my parents sent me a big package full of old school papers and such, whence I got the, um, amazing space battle drawing that I posted a few weeks ago. Reaching into this package today, I discovered this small exercise in giant block-letter printing, in which the moon has what may be an overly familiar relationship with a pumpkin:

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How To Hand Out Halloween Candy

So Halloween came and went, and we didn’t get as many trick-or-treaters (hereafter known as TOTs) as I was expecting, given the numbers of kids that seem to be running around the neighborhood on any given day. There is a possibility that our dogs–who bark like lunatics every time someone comes to the door, let alone a group of six or seven someones dressed like axe-wielding maniacs, fairy princesses, and various forms of licensed merchandise–kept some of the TOTs away. I definitely heard some screaming and running off down the driveway when the dogs started up. (Dennis the rescue vizsla didn’t bark all that much, but he was watching the other two and taking notes.)

So anyway, here’s the proper way to hand out Halloween candy. First, buy extra bags. Then, hand out the candy in ascending order of how much you like it; this way you’re left with a bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups instead of a bag of Honey Bunches O’ Angry Ants or whatever.

Oh, and give extra candy to the TOTs who say “thank you”. Even goblins can learn to be polite.


The idea for “You” came from a coworker’s desk calendar of practical jokes, one of which was to leave notes for people that just said — wait for it — you. And what better time to leave prank notes than Halloween? “You” was accepted (and paid for) by Brutarian Quarterly for the Halloween 2001 issue, but it’s not clear that this issue ever appeared. It still counts as a sale though! They’re my rules, I make ’em up …

There wasn’t anybody at the front door, just a big jack-o’-lantern with a kitchen knife stuck through the side. Hank could see the blade through the thing’s gaping mouth, the metal blackened by the flame of the stubby candle that guttered within. He stepped out onto the porch, the old boards creaking and groaning beneath his feet. Whoever had left the jack-o’-lantern had rung the bell and then vanished into the night like a coward.

He noticed a piece of paper pinned to the creamy orange rind. With one hand steadying the pumpkin, he yanked out the knife and dropped it off to the side, then picked up the note. It said, in big black letters, YOU.

Was that supposed to be a threat?

He blew out the candle, picked up the jack-o’-lantern, and took it inside. He put it on the kitchen counter, then went back for the knife; but it was gone. Whoever had left the pumpkin must have taken it while he was in the house.

Hank returned to the kitchen and spent a moment looking at the jack-o’-lantern. Probably just some kids picking on him; maybe they figured he was some kind of weird hermit or an axe murderer or something. He remembered his own childhood, when he and his friends had harassed old lady McGill simply because she never came out. They would ring her bell and run away, leave flaming bags of dog shit on her porch, unscrew the bulbs of her outside lights … whatever they could think of. Never anything as overtly threatening as this jack-o’-lantern trick, though; they were just having fun. But times had changed.

He had become old lady McGill.

And the kids had become psychopaths.

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