October has come to present quite a paradox for me. Itâ€™s hands-down my favorite month of the year, home to the best holiday. But itâ€™s also the month my job crescendos in terms of stress and workload, often leaving me with limited time and energy to enjoy it.
This is, of course, the way things go. Iâ€™m 35 now, more than a decade removed from my salad days of spending every Friday and Saturday traipsing through haunted houses with teenagers jumping out and making loud noises. Given a rare Friday night off this past week, I opted for a relaxing dinner out with my wife and another couple rather than carnival food after a hayride or something.
But we still do a pretty good job of getting in the spirit. Our decorations arenâ€™t quite as over-the-top as my window displays of yore â€” which featured multiple strobe lights, spotlights and other fire hazards â€” but we do still have Chucky leering at us from a table in our living room. Every few nights, we curl up with our dog and a pumpkin beer and watch American Horror Story or some terrible movie from my collection. And we did squeeze in some apple-picking, a wonderfully campy daytime hayride and even a petting zoo.
The way we do things obviously changes as we get older, but one tradition Iâ€™ve continued is my annual Halloween Mixtape. Probably about a decade ago, I started curating my own mix to drive around with since I wasnâ€™t particularly enamored with the CDâ€™s on the market. Tubular Bells is great, but there are only so many times you can hear it before it loses its desired effect. And Iâ€™ve long since lost my affinity for Screaminâ€™ Jay Hawkins.
Halloween is without question my favorite holiday, but it becomes a little harder every year to psyche myself up for it. My job gets a whole lot more demanding in October, so by the time we get late into the month, I’m pretty worn down and often under the weather. Besides, there’s bills to pay, dogs to walk, you know the drill.
All that was washed away on Saturday night when I walked into a formerly dilapidated ballroom, which had been transformed into a veritable Halloween theme park. Continue Reading
When Hurricane Sandy wiped out Halloween last year, I couldn’t really complain about it, as weÃ‚Â got off pretty lucky compared to much of Central and South Jersey. No trees or anything fell on our home, and our only injuries consisted of minor burns suffered by my wife on Halloween night, when she was attempting to make me hot chocolate in a pitch-dark kitchen.
That said, for someone who views Halloween the way most people do Christmas, there was no escaping that there was a pretty big void for me last year. By the time our lights flickered back on, it was a few days into November. I hadn’t nearly gotten my fill of my favorite holiday, but time waits for no ghoul.
One tradition that fell by the wayside was my annual Halloween mixtape, which I was in the process of making, but didn’t have time or electricity to complete it. But it’s a new year, with crisp and clear weather in New Jersey, so I’m thrilled to present this year’s version for download.
I havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t had a ton of time to write lately because of the World Series, and some stuff IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve done for Dime Magazine with Kyrie Irving and Penny Hardaway.Ã‚Â Expect some more next week, I have a couple of ideas IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve wanted to put out there.
But for now, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m enjoying the Halloween weekend. If youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been a longtime reader of this site, you know I like everything about the holiday Ã¢â‚¬â€œ the movies, the decorations, all of it. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s basically the only holiday I truly like, though New YearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t that bad and IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m very slowly warming up to Christmas.
My belief is that youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re never too old for Halloween; IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d better believe that, since IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m now 32. But for a few days a year, I think itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s cool to embrace your weirdness and just enjoy the creepiness of this time of year. I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get into the whole party thing Ã¢â‚¬â€œ I think about 98 percent of the people I see with their drunken nonsense in New York City are pathetic. I enjoy the holiday in other ways; snowed in today, I indulged in a double-feature of Death Proof and Drag Me To Hell.
Back in October, my girlfriend asked me at some point if IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d ever considered getting a Christmas tree, to which I responded with an open-minded Ã¢â‚¬Å“Hell no.Ã¢â‚¬Â
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve never particularly liked Christmas, and only in recent years began not to despise it. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m Jewish, and I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t even like those holidays. For me, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s always been Halloween or bust, with New YearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s and July 4th being somewhat acceptable.
I found the holiday season to be a nuisance at best. My parents were careful to give me a great Chanukah experience growing up, but as one of two Jews in my entire high school, I was surrounded by a holiday that I had nothing to do with. I couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t help but feel left out, and playing with my friendsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ toys on Christmas morning didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t help matters.
My girlfriend is in fact also Jewish. But she grew up in a home that celebrated both holidays, and she wanted a tree to enjoy while visiting my apartment.
In a diabolical move, fully knowing I adore the Snoopy Halloween special, she showed up at my place right before Halloween with the entire line of Hallmark Halloween Peanuts ornaments out of nowhere. I had to admit they were awesome, and I begrudgingly agreed we would find a place to put them.
My apartment — known to my friends as Ã¢â‚¬Å“The Chamber of FearÃ¢â‚¬Â — would have a tree this year.
As you may remember from last year, when we talked horror movies, Halloween is a special time around here. Honestly, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the only holiday I truly like. (New YearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s is okay.)
But I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t really get into the drunken nonsense this holiday has become for most people. Most parties are just an excuse to get hammered, which to me, isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t really what the holiday is about. I think itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the one time of year itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s totally acceptable to enjoy the macabre and become something different from what you actually are. (Or let your true colors show. I generally transform myself into some weird vampire with a Freddy glove)
In that spirit, if youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re in the New York/New Jersey area, I highly endorse that you check out Clinton Place in Hackensack, N.J., about 10 minutes from the George Washington Bridge. Put it in your GPS and take Route 4 West over to the old Bergen Mall, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a few blocks from that.
Programming note: I realize there was no Ã¢â‚¬Å“The Afternoon AfterÃ¢â‚¬Â this week. The reason is simple: I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t see any games except for some of the Thursday night Dolphins win over the Panthers, and even that was in a bar, so I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get as much out of it as usual. Especially considering the Patriots-Saints Monday Night game, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be back in business this week.
Thanksgiving is not my favorite holiday, to say the least. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not a big eater (though, you know, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll have some turkey and stuffing) and donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t generally prefer pies. I just donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t even get it. The only thing we seem to be celebrating in earnest is gluttony; nobodyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s sitting there with their gravy-soaked meat discussing the pilgrims or whatever.
Though sports is definitely what this site does best, Halloween is the official holiday of SportsAngle.com. ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s simply something to be said for a day in which itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s completely acceptable to more closely represent who you are visually, even if itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s sort of macabre Ã¢â‚¬â€œ or in my case, completely and totally macabre.
As a special Halloween present, SportsAngle presents its top 10 favorite horror movies as of right now. This list could very easily be very different by this time next year, but why not live in the now? All of these films come highly endorsed, and IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m presenting it a day early so you can hit up your local Best Buy and load up for the holiday.
Remember Albert Belle? Prodigious slugger for the Indians and Orioles who was completely and totally insane? You know the guy — he hit 381 homers in 12 years, once almost decapitated Fernando Vina, nailed a heckler in the chest with a baseball, put a GPS in his ex-girlfriend’s car to stalk her, and ran down some kid on Halloween after he egged his house.
After the GPS incident, Belle said, “You didn’t write a story about my Hall of Fame induction. You guys never report the good stuff that I do.” Mind you… Belle’s not in the Hall of Fame. Obviously, this guy’s good for a solid quote.
Belle called the Cleveland Plain Dealer on Monday to talk about how lousy the Indians are now. When asked if he would ever manage the team — which I believe would be a tremendous thing for the sport’s entertainment value — Belle replied, “Unless they got me a lot of new players, I don’t need a headache like that.”
But the real gem of the interview came when it was pointed out that some of Belle’s craziness may be interpreted as “roid rage,” and he pointed out:
“No, I was just an angry black man.”
You know something? Works for me! I think Bonds should have tried this tactic in front of Congress. Hell, maybe Giambi too, just to throw ’em a curveball.