As you enter the usual campground area you see that there is a long line in front of the biggest tent you’ve ever seen. This one is even bigger than the last “Biggest Tent You’ve Ever Seen.” It covers the entire campground, not just the area where you normally view the latest issue of Dragon Laffs, but the entire camping area. You see that there is only one line, but two doorways in to the tent.
You notice two of the Cyber Lethals checking IDs and then herding the person or party into one doorway or another. It seems as though the older members, members with very young children and the infirm are going through the right doorway and the young people and those of stronger and more vigorous constitutions are going in the left side.
As you get closer, you can see Ginny and Diaman arguing with Paul (aka Paul the Old Fart). You can just catch a few phrases here and there, but as Paul is getting louder and louder, you begin to hear more of the conversation:
Paul: I AM NOT going through the Kiddie side!
Paul: I’ve been a Fire Fighter all my life! Do you think that Impish or Lethal can set up some fake props with people in costumes jumping out and grabbing someone is going to frighten ME?! Do you think I won’t be able to HANDLE IT?
Diaman: Paul, no one says you can’t handle it. It is a decision that the Cyber Lethals’ programing has decided. You just fall into their category of …
Paul: I know that! And most of the rest of those old codgers would probably fall over with a heart attack by going in there, but I’M NOT ONE OF THEM!
Before either of them could get wound up any further, Lethal Leprechaun strolls up and gives Ginny and Diaman a kiss on the cheek and Paul a firm handshake and asks, “What’s going on folks? Something I can do to help?”
Paul: Yes. Yes you can. You can let me inside the adult side of the tent and not humiliate me by sending me in with the kiddies.
Lethal: Ah, I see.
Lethal makes a gesture and one of the Cyber Lethals approaches him. Lethal excuses himself and steps over to the side and begins speaking in hushed tones with the robot. After a few moments of the back and forth, Lethal nods and a slot opens up in the stomach area of the machine man. Out of this slot pops several sheets of paper. Lethal uses the Cyber Lethal’s metal shoulder to tap the pages into a neat stack and gestures for Paul and the two ladies to come over.
Lethal: Okay, Paul. I understand the problem. You fit the profile of the people who should go into the right side, and not the left. What I have here is a little legal document that basically says that you and subsequently any member of your family, friends, children, etc. will hold DL&LL Enterprises and myself and Impish Dragon completely un-responsible for any and all problems, side effects, subsequent defects and any other problem or issue listed or not listed in the document. It runs to 137 pages, so I’m pretty sure that our legal department has all the bases covered. This is not the first time we have had someone sign a document of this type. Basically, by signing this document you are giving up all rights to suing us if you get hurt. Physically or mentally.
Lethal: I’m not quite done yet. Your immediate family needs to sign this as well since they must both approve you going in and accepting the fact that you might get hurt. That would be Ginny. She holds the actual key as to whether or not you can enter the left side. Oh, and if she agrees, she must accompany you through the entire thing.
Ginny: No Paul. I can’t. I can’t have you go inside there against the better advice of Lethal’s robots. I just can’t. You are …
You realize you are passed the couple discussing which door to go in and realize that you have entered the tent and since you were so intent on listening to the couple argue that you’re not sure which door you went in. Did you go in the easy door or the one that your physician had to sign off saying your heart was strong enough or the supposed, easier one?
As you wander deeper in the darkness, the rest of us will join the issue.
So….it’s Halloween…time for ghosts and goblins to run from door to door begging treats and threatening tricks. But, where did this very much different holiday come from? Well, according to the History Channel…
History of Halloween
Straddling the line between fall and winter, plenty and paucity, life and death, Halloween is a time of celebration and superstition. It is thought to have originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints and martyrs; the holiday, All Saints’ Day, incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows’ Eve and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a secular, community-based event characterized by child-friendly activities such as trick-or-treating. In a number of countries around the world, as the days grow shorter and the nights get colder, people continue to usher in the winter season with gatherings, costumes and sweet treats.
Well, that’s a nice start, while you wonder your way through my maze, let’s get into the issue and learn a bit more about Halloween along the way.
It is extraordinarily hard to find Halloween jokes, stories and quips to share throughout this issue, but I’m going to try. And perhaps I’ll transform some other jokes into a form that would be Halloweenish.
And knowing that, this next video really doesn’t really have anything to do with Halloween…expect … well, the night before Halloween when I was growing up, was called mischief night and part of that is pulling pranks and this next video is one of the greatest pranks ever played on a telemarketer in all time. I actually got a call from California while I was driving and didn’t answer it. They didn’t leave a message and when I got home I looked the number up on Google and found out it was a telemarketer and that led me to this:
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the phone number that called me was from Anaheim, California and it was 714-340-2608 so if you have the ability to block calls on your phone, you can add that one to the list.
Ancient Origins of Halloween
Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31 they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.
Okay, another video. Remember the Christmas lights set to music that have become so popular lately? Well, here’s a Halloween themed one set to one of my favorite songs. Well, one of my favorite songs from a movie…okay, one of my favorite songs from THIS movie. Well…. screw it! It’s Time Warp from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. You may recognize this house from Lethal Leprechaun’s issue on Wednesday where it was set up to Ghost Busters. That was 2015 and this is 2016. Glad to see they’ve kept it going.
To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.
By 43 A.D., the Roman Empire had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain. The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of “bobbing” for apples that is practiced today on Halloween.
On May 13, 609 A.D., Pope Boniface IV dedicated the Pantheon in Rome in honor of all Christian martyrs, and the Catholic feast of All Martyrs Day was established in the Western church. Pope Gregory III (731?741) later expanded the festival to include all saints as well as all martyrs, and moved the observance from May 13 to November 1. By the 9th century the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands, where it gradually blended with and supplanted the older Celtic rites. In 1000 A.D., the church would make November 2 All Souls’ Day, a day to honor the dead. It is widely believed today that the church was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. All Souls Day was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels and devils. The All Saints Day celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints’ Day) and the night before it, the traditional night of Samhain in the Celtic religion, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween.
Halloween Comes to America
Celebration of Halloween was extremely limited in colonial New England because of the rigid Protestant belief systems there. Halloween was much more common in Maryland and the southern colonies. As the beliefs and customs of different European ethnic groups as well as the American Indians meshed, a distinctly American version of Halloween began to emerge. The first celebrations included “play parties,” public events held to celebrate the harvest, where neighbors would share stories of the dead, tell each other’s fortunes, dance and sing. Colonial Halloween festivities also featured the telling of ghost stories and mischief-making of all kinds. By the middle of the nineteenth century, annual autumn festivities were common, but Halloween was not yet celebrated everywhere in the country.
In the second half of the nineteenth century, America was flooded with new immigrants. These new immigrants, especially the millions of Irish fleeing Ireland’s potato famine of 1846, helped to popularize the celebration of Halloween nationally. Taking from Irish and English traditions, Americans began to dress up in costumes and go house to house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today’s “trick-or-treat” tradition. Young women believed that on Halloween they could divine the name or appearance of their future husband by doing tricks with yarn, apple parings or mirrors.
In the late 1800s, there was a move in America to mold Halloween into a holiday more about community and neighborly get-togethers than about ghosts, pranks and witchcraft. At the turn of the century, Halloween parties for both children and adults became the most common way to celebrate the day. Parties focused on games, foods of the season and festive costumes. Parents were encouraged by newspapers and community leaders to take anything “frightening” or “grotesque” out of Halloween celebrations. Because of these efforts, Halloween lost most of its superstitious and religious overtones by the beginning of the twentieth century.
By the 1920s and 1930s, Halloween had become a secular, but community-centered holiday, with parades and town-wide parties as the featured entertainment. Despite the best efforts of many schools and communities, vandalism began to plague Halloween celebrations in many communities during this time. By the 1950s, town leaders had successfully limited vandalism and Halloween had evolved into a holiday directed mainly at the young. Due to the high numbers of young children during the fifties baby boom, parties moved from town civic centers into the classroom or home, where they could be more easily accommodated. Between 1920 and 1950, the centuries-old practice of trick-or-treating was also revived. Trick-or-treating was a relatively inexpensive way for an entire community to share the Halloween celebration. In theory, families could also prevent tricks being played on them by providing the neighborhood children with small treats. A new American tradition was born, and it has continued to grow. Today, Americans spend an estimated $6 billion annually on Halloween, making it the country’s second largest commercial holiday.
I know it’s dark where you are and you’re still trying to find your way out of the maze….if … you’re even still alive in there. So, let’s learn some more about Halloween, shall we? After all, I wouldn’t want you to think that you’ve died from a made up holiday!
Today’s Halloween Traditions
The American Halloween tradition of “trick-or-treating” probably dates back to the early All Souls’ Day parades in England. During the festivities, poor citizens would beg for food and families would give them pastries called “soul cakes” in return for their promise to pray for the family’s dead relatives. The distribution of soul cakes was encouraged by the church as a way to replace the ancient practice of leaving food and wine for roaming spirits. The practice, which was referred to as “going a-souling” was eventually taken up by children who would visit the houses in their neighborhood and be given ale, food, and money.
The tradition of dressing in costume for Halloween has both European and Celtic roots. Hundreds of years ago, winter was an uncertain and frightening time. Food supplies often ran low and, for the many people afraid of the dark, the short days of winter were full of constant worry. On Halloween, when it was believed that ghosts came back to the earthly world, people thought that they would encounter ghosts if they left their homes. To avoid being recognized by these ghosts, people would wear masks when they left their homes after dark so that the ghosts would mistake them for fellow spirits. On Halloween, to keep ghosts away from their houses, people would place bowls of food outside their homes to appease the ghosts and prevent them from attempting to enter.
Have we learned enough about Halloween yet? Are you poor babies still trapped in the darkness? Awww, well the rest of us aren’t quite done just yet.
Halloween has always been a holiday filled with mystery, magic and superstition. It began as a Celtic end-of-summer festival during which people felt especially close to deceased relatives and friends. For these friendly spirits, they set places at the dinner table, left treats on doorsteps and along the side of the road and lit candles to help loved ones find their way back to the spirit world. Today’s Halloween ghosts are often depicted as more fearsome and malevolent, and our customs and superstitions are scarier too. We avoid crossing paths with black cats, afraid that they might bring us bad luck. This idea has its roots in the Middle Ages, when many people believed that witches avoided detection by turning themselves into cats. We try not to walk under ladders for the same reason. This superstition may have come from the ancient Egyptians, who believed that triangles were sacred; it also may have something to do with the fact that walking under a leaning ladder tends to be fairly unsafe. And around Halloween, especially, we try to avoid breaking mirrors, stepping on cracks in the road or spilling salt.
But what about the Halloween traditions and beliefs that today’s trick-or-treaters have forgotten all about? Many of these obsolete rituals focused on the future instead of the past and the living instead of the dead. In particular, many had to do with helping young women identify their future husbands and reassuring them that they would someday,with luck, by next Halloween, be married. In 18th-century Ireland, a matchmaking cook might bury a ring in her mashed potatoes on Halloween night, hoping to bring true love to the diner who found it. In Scotland, fortune-tellers recommended that an eligible young woman name a hazelnut for each of her suitors and then toss the nuts into the fireplace. The nut that burned to ashes rather than popping or exploding, the story went, represented the girl’s future husband. (In some versions of this legend, confusingly, the opposite was true: The nut that burned away symbolized a love that would not last.) Another tale had it that if a young woman ate a sugary concoction made out of walnuts, hazelnuts and nutmeg before bed on Halloween night she would dream about her future husband. Young women tossed apple-peels over their shoulders, hoping that the peels would fall on the floor in the shape of their future husbands’ initials; tried to learn about their futures by peering at egg yolks floating in a bowl of water; and stood in front of mirrors in darkened rooms, holding candles and looking over their shoulders for their husbands’ faces. Other rituals were more competitive. At some Halloween parties, the first guest to find a burr on a chestnut-hunt would be the first to marry; at others, the first successful apple-bobber would be the first down the aisle.
Of course, whether we’re asking for romantic advice or trying to avoid seven years of bad luck, each one of these Halloween superstitions relies on the good will of the very same “spirits” whose presence the early Celts felt so keenly.
Well, well, well. That’s the end of the story of Halloween, but not, dear camper, the end of this issue, but it might be, the end of you who are still trapped …..
Pretty cool, huh?
Leave it to a Burger King in Queens, NY to display the best Halloween costume a fast-food chain has ever worn. The fast food restaurant draped a huge white sheet over the exterior of the building with the word McDonald’s spray painted on top. Add a few eyes and you have yourself a certified flame grilled ghost.
Let’s not get our hopes too high for a retaliation from McDonald’s. They’re still up in arms over the whole scary clown debacle that has swept the nation, so much that they were forced to hide Ronald until Halloween is over. Too bad too, because if McDonald’s had a committed team of employees like BK did in organizing the fitting of that massive costume, who knows what Mickey D’s would have fired back with.
Okay, so this issue is so huge that it just crashed on me and I thought I had lost everything! Talk about a Halloween scare! I hope before it crashed that everyone who was still in the maze got out safely, but I guess we’ll find that out when next we meet and we see if everyone is still there.
I hope you enjoyed the issue. Thanks to all of you who contributed and special thanks to my buddy and partner Lethal Leprechaun, who really kept this issue full.
Until next week.