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This is an curmudgeon entry; thems who are cheerful may want to come back tomorrow.

Every year when I drag out the Hallowe’en trimmings and reflect back on my memories of the holiday I wax nostalgic on past times and things. It would be nice to turn back time Cher-like and have some lovelies now dead as dodos.  

Hallowe’en is one of them. If you didn’t care for it you didn’t participate; you kept the porch light off and that’s that. Now it is a contentious topic for the Fundies trying to ban it as it worships Satan or makes girls have sex or something. My elementary school had an all day party (with costumes) and a parade. A friend of mine who is a principal tells me no one does this anymore thanks to a handful of howling righteous types.  

Another item I would like back is feeling good when the telephone rings. If the phone rang one leapt up in anticipation of something positive. Is this grandmother? Your best friend? Someone longing for a chat in an otherwise dull afternoon? Thanks to call ID we now know who is calling, and most of the time this is ‘bad news’ as if things were OK they would text. Worse is a number you don’t recognize. These are invariably a telemarketer or a scam artist or someone who wants something.  Let’s face it, phone calls are a bummer.  

Similar is the news. Do I have a false memories here?  Turning into the half-hour news wasn’t the dreadful depressing experience it now is. The news is constant, sensational, and always bad. Even as I type this my phone is going off with the latest Trump shenanigan. *

Sundays – empty indolent Sundays! We went to church in the morning and then the rest of the day was stay at home and do whatever.  There was no on-line work or cellphones to blur work and home. Mother and Father didn’t house keeping and yard work on this day. They read the paper; we kids played games or read books or (if the weather was nice) were shooed outside and allowed to roam about unsupervised having to rely on our imaginations how to spend the day. Can you imagine?  

The thou-shall-nots in the Old Testament more or less rest upon the axiom things are good if they are clear in types and boundaries. Wearing clothes of different fibers; eating foods with odd features; gender confusion (no inappropriate gender items please).   I now see some psychological benefits to this approach.  Sunday as a day of rest – sans work seems psychologically most sensible.  News at set time again and not at all others would relieve a lot of stress in my opinion. 

As we age we face new complex and hard to grasp changes; this makes us yearn for time were allegedly simpler and more defined.  There’s no going back but I can do some things still like turn off the phone, don’t read the news all the time, and spend my Sundays doing nothing. This qualifies me as a curmudgeon yes but I my psyche will be better for it. 

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Harper says: when in doubt get horizontal. 

 

*I turned off the notification. 

The neighbors put up Christmas decorations as soon as possible; some of them do so on Thanksgiving afternoon. Not as many put up decorations for All Hallows Eve but when they do they get at it right away. 1 October seems to be the ‘green light’ – or is that ‘orange’? – to haul out the Halloween yard trappings. Urs Truly tends to do likewise.  I don’t do everything at once. Last night I exchanged the outside white lights for orange and I put out the ‘trick or treat’ door mat.   It’s a start.

I don’t usually succumb to on-line ads but I did last week. I saw a video on Facebook about  ‘skull pizzas” consisting of making little pizzas in a skull-shaped muffin tin. Mr. Bezos was all too happy to sell me such and the tin arrived quick as a quarter note. I went to Uncle Albertsons and bought cheese, sauce, and premade pizza dough along with some mushrooms and meat.   20 minutes at 400F.

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The first batch came out OK: there weren’t any major errors or disappointments. They are a bit more ‘doughy’ than I thought it would be so next time I will roll out the crust a tad thinner.  I forgot to chop some onions and I didn’t want to try anchovies in the first attempt. The grease from the pepperoni gave them a ‘stained’ appearance but I think it lends to their allure.  I ate mine with relish.  I could make little sweetie skull cakes as well (the pan came with a recipe).

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The elves on the shelves at YouTube have rewarded my on-line search for pizza skull cooking directions with a  bombardment of video recommendations on making Halloween cakes, cookies, decorations etc. Most of these alleged ‘easy’ recipe ideas look like something Martha Stewart spends hours creating and who’s got time for that?  This young man on YouTube I was told to check out as he makes exquisite little pumpkin cakes.  I watched the video slightly stunned as the stepwise process involved in making these things. I give him credit: he is a talented fellow and nice looking to boot. He obviously knows his way around a kitchen.  He’s handsome, talented, and he boasts of a beautiful husband and he makes everything look easy.  These types make me sick and I just want to smack him in the face because I know if I try to do these recipes mine will take much longer and come out looking much worse and this will invariably make me cross.  Oh well. There are other recipes I can do that won’t make me feel deficit. This weekend I think I will make snickerdoodles which are simple, spicy, and never look bad – like my men.

Every October I make grandiose plans for a fun-filled Halloween. This always includes watching a lot of movies apropos for the season. I dream of sitting at night watching them while consuming a big bowl of popcorn and a large stein of orange Kool-aid.* The chances of this happening are slim. It means making time for a movie AND sitting still to watch it. All the same making the list of what I want to see is jolly good fun.

The criteria are usually the same:

a) I want to see some movies I haven’t seen.

b) I want to see some I haven’t seen in so long I may as well call them ‘never seen before”.

Really I am open to most anything.  With that said I am not a big fan of  ‘gore’ or ‘slasher’ films. I would rather be scared by the uncanny than by a psycho-killer. I haven’t seen Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Nightmare on Elm Street but I ought to.

Here’s the 2019 list so far:

 

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Dracula –  I can’t remember if I have actually seen it. I’ve seen countless clips but not the entire movie?  Patience above! If there is one movie for Halloween this is it.

 

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Hocus Pocus – I am embarrassed to say I have never seen this movie. At show tunes night at the bar they often play Bette singing “I’ve put a spell on you” but that’s that.

 

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The Haunting (1963) –  This remains as my all time favorite scary movie. It’s the only one on the list so far I’ve seen/seen recently. It isn’t a priority but still…. it can’t get any scarier than this.

The House on Haunted Hill – another one I’ve not seen.  It sounds stunning.

 

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The Witches – I remember seeing this in 1990 or so.  It wasn’t really ‘Halloween” but it did have lots of witches doing nasty things to little children which is what wicked witches are supposed to do. And then there are all those Huston poses!

Sleepy Hollow –  I read the short story just about every year but this time I want to see a movie version.

Hotel Transylvania –  I haven’t a clue if it is any good but the characters are correct.

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Please! Spo-fans are encouraged to leave in the comments any “must see” movies for Halloween. Tell me your favorites and recommendations. Tell me something about why you find them good. I would be most grateful .

 

*This is what I would drink as a boy. I suppose if I get around to actually watching some flicks I will substitute the orange Kool-aid with some rye bourbon (no rubbish).

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It is approximately half a mile walk from my hotel room door to the convention centre.  This the same length as a dog walk but the route is not as circuitous. It does have its obstacles however. There are slow-pokes and there are groups who walk arm-in-arm. The greatest hazard seems to be the scooters and thems who ride them. I’ve heard of these fiendish contraptions but I haven’t encountered them until now. In Phoenix it is too hot to be out of doors and no one walks anywhere as the distances are vast and one needs a vehicle with AC. I should ask Someone if scooters are downtown where he works. If they are not there yet, I vote we ban them before they arrive. 

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Scooters are abandoned where the last user stopped. I don’t know how this works. They are often left standing in the middle of the sidewalk or lying on the ground where people can step onto or (worse) trip over them. Apparently the silly things stand there until someone fancies to jump on and take off. 

I don’t know what worries me more: the scooters at rest or the ones in use. The youngsters using them:

a) don’t wear helmets

b) drive them around on the sidewalk. 

Shouldn’t they be off the sidewalk?

Scooters-folks think they are the last Coca-cola in the desert; all must get out of their way. I learned this the hard way as one if these villains came up behind me apparently failing to tell me telepathically to step out if his way because at the last second he had to swerve around me and tell me verbally my error.

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Fearsome Beard and The Good Doctor Spouse (the dears!) last night at supper told me I scooters often end up in the water system and recently one old man was caught sabotaging several. I am not one to condone such shenanigans but I can empathize with the miscreant. These acts of violence are two sides of the same coin: frustration  the sidewalks aren’t safe. 

I’ve just returned from dinner. Between the restaurant and the hotel kids in the 20s were zooming up and down the sidewalks thick as fleas. Not one of them were wearing a helmet nor do they look attentive to the road. Lord love us! Many had headphones ensconced on their heads – that can’t be good for safety. On the positive I was able to shout out the scooter-equivalent of you kids get off my lawn without them hearing me.

I am safe in my room now. On the way up I did not throw any scooters in the bay. 

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I thought my four day conference would be a dull thing viz. sitting in lectures and spending the evenings in my room, reading.  It’s been far from dull. Spo-fans may be amused by some of my shenanigans so here’s the scoop:

The main lecturer is known for his bowties. Out of whimsy I wore one too. Everybody else was dressed down.* People kept coming up to me to say how well I was running the show. I’m sorry but men who wear bowties don’t all look alike. I finally had to take it off and I changed into Spo-shirts as is my wont. 

So far the lectures have been ho-hum bread and butter psychiatry:  treating depression, PTSD, anxiety and what not. The usual things. The highlight lecture for Urs Truly has been one on statistics and how to read medical papers.  This allows me to cut through the rubbish and the razzle-dazzle of pharmaceutical brochures to get to the data to determine how efficaciousis this medicine. I now have splendid formulas to calculate how likely a Rx will produce results and how likely it will do harm.  Gads but I hate data twisted to sell a product. 

This afternoon when I should  have have been paying attention to the latest in treatment- resistant depression* I was on an app seeing who was nearby. One nice looking fellow caught my interest and  he was siting nearby. I reached out to the stranger with a howdy-do. He replied “Hi Spo I remember you”. After playing twenty questions it was revealed he was a long-lost colleague. It’s funny seeing someone you haven’t seen in nearly 15 years. Who says these apps are worthless? I am back in touch with an old friend. We had a marvelous supper and we got caught up. I hope we stay in touch this time. 

I forgot to pack deodorant.  Oh the embarrassment.  Nothing at the Marriott Marina is cheap but I ask you – 11$ for Old Spice roll-on?  I’ve been fleeced!  

It’s time to sleep. After all it is a school night. There is a 715AM lecture on binge eating disorder – breakfast is included.

 

*The audience looked quite casual except the staff who were all in suits – except this one:

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He’s up to no good that’s certain. 

**There are ten tricks to consider; information provided upon request. 

thWhen the wine fridge went kaput we cleared  the main one to make room for the more expensive bottles of vino. It’s an ill wind that blows nobody good: we got the opportunity to  toss out the outdated foodstuffs and keep only the vitals. One item that survived the purge is a half-empty ketchup bottle. I’d forgotten it was there. It wasn’t so old to throw out but it certainly wasn’t new. I can’t remember when I last used it. Nowadays I prefer different sorts of condiments such as salsas and hot sauces. For whimsy  I have a bottle of HP brown sauce (how jolly!).

Ketchup was the main – nay the only condiment for me when I was a kid. I despised tomatoes but I loved ketchup. I put it on almost everything – especially meats and vegetables I judged bland or awful to taste (which was most of them). Mother let me use ketchup I suppose as with it I would eat my vegetables. For reasons now forgotten at an early age I deduced Hunts was better than Heinz; to this day if I use ketchup I buy the former.

Ketchup has fallen from its status as the great American condiment.* It’s full of sugar and it’s rather bland really– it lacks ’umami’ and the heat I like in a sauce (and my men).  The only time I eat it is on low quality foods like fast-food burgers and sandwiches. Ketchup on hot dogs is beyond cheap – it is sacrilege. I like my wieners with mustards and sauerkraut – two items in I my youth I would not touch. They were along the line of ‘sooner I’d eat rats at Tewkesbury”. Just give me the ketchup bottle please. How funny how our preferences change.

OK you got me. There is one exception: French fries. Try as I can to be chic or Canadian or British by using malt vinegar, poutine gravy, or sriracha on my fries A.K.A. chips it’s no good. A big splat of bright red ketchup in which to mop up the fries remains a must. True I often add Tabasco or Cholula to the bloody mess but it’s still mostly ketchup.**

It is a funny comforting sight to see the contents the fridge: bottles of snotty wine with a Heinz ketchup bottle among them. Did I mention Someone likes Heinz over Hunts?  If only I had asked a few logical questions before I married him.

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*Someone tells me a few years ago the salsa sales surpassed catsup for the first time and the right wingnuts lost their minds seeing this as a sinister sign the illegal aliens A.K.A. The Mexicans are taking over the nation. Rumor has it thems of that political paranoia were encouraged to boycott (healthier) salsas for sugar-laden catsup and lots of mayonnaise. Should I tell them?

**I read on line Heinz in their attempt not to lose customers have come out with ‘gourmet’ ketchups with hot sauce  and imperial tid-bits already in them. The original ketchups from the 1700s were made from fish and vegetables and not tomatoes so ketchup is returning to its hot spicy umami roots.

I normally don’t recall my dreams and when I do they are no fun. Lately I’ve had a lot of bad ones. It doesn’t take a Freudian to know the reason(s): worries about the world; the house; and – most likely – work.* I would give my eye-teeth just once to have the sort of dream that makes analysts salivate but worse luck! I don’t get any juicy ones. Nor are they coherent. My unconscious flits about just like my conscious one.

A common theme in my dreams is being on some sort of journey in which I feel unable to find my way to my destination. They are often set in airports in which I am about to miss a flight and become stuck there or left behind with no way out or home. I’ve always had travel angst and fears of missing flights. In some previous life I must have been  at The Fall of Saigon or something similar. These twilight-zone nightmares never resolve on their own; there are no happy endings. Some rational part of my psyche  has to inchoate the suggestion this is only a dream/you are at home/wake up and it’s over. This works but I’d like for the caught-in-the-airport dream to resolve happily by catching the plane preferably with an upgrade to first class.

Despite years of phobia work I still snap a tether over spiders. Some maleficent brain matter of mine likes to insert them into my dreams as a monstrous subconscious practical joke. This makes me wake up in hysterics believing the bastard is really there in bed with me. Someone by now recognizes the pattern ‘You had a spider dream again, didn’t you” and rolls over. No comfort there.

Kafkaesque airports and Shelobs make for fitful sleeping and I resent the Moulin Rouge-like quick scene changes. On occasion there is an element of eroticism to my dreams. I think my psyche puts these in to curtail or distract from the nonsense already happening. Spo-fans shouldn’t get their hopes up here. These are often so out of context to what’s happening in the dream my reaction is nearly always bewilderment why all of a sudden ‘that’ got dragged onto the stage.

Mercifully this odd-ball trilogy of dream themes don’t happen often: most of the time I don’t remember my dreams at all. Now that things are a bit settled at work I hope for long dreamless nights sans airports sans spiders sans top hats made from leather sans everything. The erotic bits can stay I suppose provided they make sense and have some archetypal elements to them. I think it becomes a tax write off that way.

 

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*For the past four months or so I’ve have a stressful matter at work which was not suitable for blogging. This is over with now; I hope I can sleep now with less nightmares.

When I was a lad my family did a lot of family car trips. Our treks were routine rather than adventuresome; we seemed content to do the outings apropos for the season. It was about now in the calendar we piled up in the station wagon and drove into the countryside on a Sunday afternoon to see the sights. The goals were always the same: admire the leaves, pick some pumpkins, and stop at a cider mill for cider and doughnuts.

There is nothing quite like cider and doughnuts in the fall. I am not a big doughnut fan A.K.A sugar-fried cakes of death but those made in autumn had a taste like no other. These lovelies were ‘hot off the press’ as it were. The doughnuts were all the same brown like that of a teddy bear and coated with white sugar crytals with a just a hint of cinnamon. The cider was also brown – opaque in contrast to the clear yeloow apple juice we drank in the rest of the year. Grandmother would not drink cider, suspicious of worms. This unappetizing expose (thanks grandma!) didn’t deter us kids though. Cider and doughnuts were taken like communion in a sort of secular service.

Alas, babylon! I no longer live in a place that has autumn leaves. Worse luck! There are no cider mills.  This week one can buy cider at Albertsons but what’s the fun in that? Uncle Albert also sells some ersatz sugar-doughnuts but these don’t taste as good as the ones I remember from my youth.*

A new creature is evolving to fill the niche once dominated by the now-extinct cider and doughnuts.  This is apple spice bourbon. Every year when I remember our autumnal outings I go buy me some apples and dice’m and stew’em in apple juice with along with some cinnamon, whole cloves, and a vanilla bean. It makes the house smell like fall. After this cools I pour in some bourbon** and let it all marinate in the fridge for a few days. Once strained the liquor makes a pretty good cider although nothing like what we drank in my youth.  Some is put in a glass along with a large ice cube and it’s topped off with some ginger ale – Vernors is I can find any.  The 2019 batch is about ready to strain; it is looking a little gray which doesn’t bode well. Perhaps I put too much rat in it.  Now I got to find some proper doughnuts if I can and take a bite and sip my cider and try to remember the kind of September when life was slow and oh so mellow with chattering brothers in the back seat of a Ford station wagon with Father playing ‘Autumn Leaves’ by Nat King Cole.

 

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*Old people often complain food in the present doesn’t taste as good as what was available in the past back when they were young.  Some of this is due to the loss of taste buds but I think another sizeable factor is back in our childhoods we had lots of sources of pleasure and we were less dependent on those provided at the table.

 

**Usually Maker’s Mark. I’ve learned not to use too good bourbon but then again no rubbish either. One year I went cheap and used Old Crow. It was terrible.

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I took a break this weekend to surf the internet to see what would I encounter. After falling down the rabbit hole that is Youtube I stumbled across a ‘Scooby Doo where are you?’ episode. Is it possible I’ve seen one in fifty years? I remember not being a big fan of the show back in my halcyon Hanna-Barbara days. Scooby Doo was unsettling to me – not just for the ghosts and ghouls but by the heroes. There seemed to be no explanation how these four odd characters came together or who owned the van let alone the talking dog. Perhaps I missed the episode with the background information. It all had an absurdity to it. I’ve been told the makers of the series hotly deny the show had anything to do with drugs but this is like denying Georgia O’Keefe flowers are yonic. Even as a ten year old I thought everybody connected to the show (including the producers) were taking something.

I forget which episode I just saw but I suspect its formula applies to all of them: these groovy savvy kids stumble into a haunted situation the scared adults can’t figure out and believe at face value. The ghost de jour chases them around for half an hour until they turn the tables around and trap it. Lo! the mask is ripped off to reveal it was just a person motivated by greed to keep people away and in their place. Case closed.

I was trained in science; I found it comforting to see Velma’s hypothesis of non-superstitious scientific reasoning explaining and prevailing over superstitious clap-trap. There are an awful lot of adults nowadays determined to stick with dogma than reason. One would think if the Mystery Mobile showed up today to point the flashlight of reason into the faces of thems in charge the teens would be laughed at and dismissed. A part of me keeps hoping some Shaggy and Velma-types will pull the mask off of the POTUS . So far no such luck – thems who have tried so far have seen people still believe in the agreed-upon superstitions. 

I am a big fan of pulling off the masks of the frighteners. I think I will see another episode just to make sure of all of this. 

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P.S. Just after I published this I did an image search  and lo! Some one has thought of this already!  I guess I am not the only one who sees the current political situation resembles a Hanna-Barbara cartoon. 

Writing when you have nothing to write seems a bit balmy. I’ve heard many great writers recommend doing this as a means of keeping ‘in the habit’ and being open for inspiration. Unfortunately none of my usual inspirational archetypes seem open to such. I am Gogo waiting for Godot. Having a blank mind open for what may come up is the cornerstone of the psychoanalytical the process so I shouldn’t be too skeptical about typing away hoping something takes over my fingers and produces great prose. This makes the keyboard a sort of Ouija board. Let’s see what happens.

I remember trying free-association for the first time when I was in a Freudian-based analysis. Sitting across from the silent shrink silently while he smoked did not inspire me to free-associate however. Rather I clammed up feeling put on the spot.  My hummingbird mind was preoccupied with getting back to work and mundane worries which was not what he was after. I daresay I was a disappointment to him. Freudians have a tendency to lump not talking or ‘wrong’ conversations into the common category of ‘resistance to treatment’ and wonder why you are not cooperating.  In hindsight this sounds rather sinister doesn’t it?  I suppose I did speak up in time; I don’t remember much of our time together other than he wouldn’t stop smoking even at my request He merely interpreted as another resistance to the Father Figure AKA Oedipal complex.  My less than stellar interpretation was the request he not smoke in our session was based on common sense courtesy and besides that I was paying him big bucks to tighten my lose screws and breathing in his tobacco smoke was impeding my process.  I also remember him saying I was a ‘love slave’ to my mother’s desires which was bad I suppose. Later I learned he had died of lung cancer so who was the worse slave to what is debatable.

Funny how this free associated blog entry ended up back on the couch at The Psychoanalytical Institute of Chicago. I just had a look-see yes it is still there. I wonder how it is thriving. In the 70s/80s the libidinous lyceum was quite prominent back when psychoanalysis was ‘the’ psychiatric treatment. I wonder if the current members smoke in their sessions.  Who can say.  Looking at their portrait pictures I don’t see anyone I fancy being their love-slave, so I guess that means I was cured of that neurosis after all.

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