Trick or Treat! Smell my feet! Give me something good to eat! Boo! It’s the Halloween edition of Desert Droppings. Witches, Zombies, and What’s cookin’? Open your Spider-man pillowcase wide and catch these goodies!
The ABQ Journal had a recent front page article about two ABQ women who discovered that they were very distantly related to Anne Pudeator, who was accused of witchcraft and hanged during the 1692 Salem witch trials.
SALEM! Glorious flashback! During a stint as an American History teacher in Upstate NY, my favorite unit of study was the Salem Witch Trials. I visited Salem, MA several times to gather material and immerse myself in the aura of past misdeeds that still haunts this picturesque whaling town, with its historic merchants’ homes, charming colonial gardens, and ardent embrace of tourism.
Halloween, of course, is a prime opportunity for Salem to entice visitors eager for a glimpse of the possibly paranormal, despite historical evidence that the famed Witch Trials were a mean mix of religious fanaticism, envy, greed, and vengeance (sort of the way I view the volatile Middle East ).
Still, when walking, as I did, at midnight, past the Witches’ Burial Ground, the Witch House, the Witch Museum, the Witch Shoppe, and the statue of one of Salem’s founders with billowing cape and tall hat silhouetted in the moonlight, it is authentically eerie!
Salem is like a New England – style Roswell – a tourist destination famous for being the site of a bizarre historical event, with convincing documentation, a lingering air of mystery…and loads of souvenir shops!
Wouldn’t it be cool to have a witch in your family tree? My bubbe used to call Aunt Mindy a witch, but I don’t think she meant the pointy hat, spell – casting kind. Truthfully, though, I’ve never been a fan of ancestry.com. What if, instead of find a spooky forebear, I discovered that great- uncle Max, back in the Old Country, owed his prosperous neighbors the Katzowitz family 50 kopeks for the chicken he stole one night while drunk on schnapps (Uncle Max, not the chicken ). With accrued interest, the late Max and we, his hapless descendants, would now owe those shvitzers, the Katzowitzes, $2,534,465.42! No, this is one family tree that’s better left unclimbed, before today’s Cranston (née Katzowitz) clan can say “Better Call Saul! ”
While our family may not have a meticulously compiled volume of genealogical data like the lady with the allegedly bewitched ancestor, we do have some unique traditions. Now, if you’re picturing such esteemed family practices as Sunday dinner at Granny’s or a Yuletide wassail fest at the country house, you’re barking up the wrong family tree! Our family traditions are more along the lines of wearing ridiculous hats (even when it’s not Halloween), talking to imaginary animals, and starting every phone conversation with Grandma ‘s favorite question, “Are you warm enough?”
Well, at least, none of our family members that we know of, was strung up for “choking, pinching…casting a spell” or “flying like a bird” like Salem’s Anne Pudeator.
And none of our kinfolk has ever eaten anyone! Which brings us to Season 5 of The Walking Dead. Those of you who aren’t among the millions of viewers who have made TWD more popular than Sunday Night Football, may now be excused to sort through your Halloween Candy, take costumed selfies (I just saw one of a guy dressed as a ” social media app”),or string toilet paper on your neighbor’s bushes. We’re going to chew the fat, and re-hash TWD’s shocking, gory, irrational savagery- and that’s just the humans! So far Season 5 has given us food for thought, story lines you can really sink your teeth into, and a new ka-Bob recipe.
Yes, Terminus turned out to be a rather unpalatable experience and we’ve shamelessly shuddered through every tasty morsel of it. As yet, we haven’t learned in detail why Terminus turned from sanctuary to slaughterhouse, but there are hints that some malevolent intruders are to blame. According to the Terminians, “We let them in. They took over. Catastrophe ensued.”
(Sort of the way I view the outcome of the midterm elections).
And the Walkers- they’re still chomping and lurching about – a minor threat compared to the increasingly heartless humans.
TWD is even spreading its dubious message beyond the flat screen. While mall shopping for a birthday gift for a teenage friend, I was startled to come face to face with Rick, TWD’s hero (or rather his life- size cardboard facsimile). Hot Topic, a pop culture shop for the under 21 set, had the two – dimensional Rick as part of a display for pricey TWD memorabilia. I was tempted to buy dog tags depicting my TWD favorites, a Glenn doll, and a t-shirt that read, “If Darryl dies, we riot!” But, maturity (ie Wait ’till the pre- Christmas sales) prevailed.
And in the ABQ Journal, there’s a political cartoon that shows chubby Governor Christie sprawled in front of the tv, munching a bag of chips and talking on the phone to airport security. The caption reads, “New Jersey Governor Chris Christie makes his Ebola quarantine decisions while watching exciting all new episodes of “The Walking Dead.”
Boo! TWD meets the real world! We’re in for a scary ride! Hold on to your funny hats! Eat treats, not toes! Consider November 4 the new Halloween. According to my pet penguin, there are tricky times ahead. Wear a sweater!