Saturday, October 31, 2009


A few lists of the best and worst Halloween candies came across my web browser yesterday. Hershey's national survey listed the top ten treats for adults and the top ten for kids. I was surprised to see some Mars and Nestlé products on the Hershey's list.

SF Weekly chose five candies kids love even though they don't taste great. I can agree with their dislike of wax lips and Pixy Stix but not candy corn. The tasty tricolor treats are addictive in their super-sweetness. I don't like Smarties but I will give them a free pass because my kids like them. The fifth choice was Ring Pops. Eh.

It was snooty Bon Appetit that got me riled up. They did get a couple of items right on their best and worst lists. For example, they like Whoppers and Reese's Peanut Butter Pumpkins. The worst list includes Necco Wafers and Milk Duds. They foolishly put candy corn on both lists. But how dare they impugn one of my all time favorites, Circus Peanuts. Screenwriter and candy-lover Paul Rudnick also dissed the Peanut on his list. Back in my heavier days, I would often eat Circus Peanuts on airplane flights. The last one in the package tasted just as good as the first.

The trick-or-treaters in our neighborhood will have to wait until I get home from work and my wife gets home from church before they can access our goodies. She bought an assortment of Mars products including Milky Way, 3 Musketeers, Snickers, Twix and Skittles. My wife likes to serve them from a bowl with a ceramic hand reaching up from the bottom. To give this photo an appropriately blood-red tint, I held my finger over the flash. Oooh, very scary!

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Friday, October 31, 2008

one trick, three treats

It would have been cool to celebrate Halloween by posting a copy of "The War of the Worlds," as requested by my friend Bean. I unsuccessfully dug through several drawers full of old CDs hoping that I might have the version we did on KLOS. Unfortunately the fan sites and Rare Footage Vault didn't have it either. Instead I found a CD of the 1938 version, which I was enjoying in the car as I drove around today.

Last weekend I saw something that would be great at a Halloween party. Here are some college students using liquid nitrogen to make ice cream. It makes a mess.

Last night I judged a dessert cook-off that you'll be reading more about later. One of the contestants put Oreo Balls on a Halloween tray with some holiday sprinkles. They were similar to the Oreo Truffles my wife makes, except these had white chocolate (yuck) on the outside. I much prefer the dark chocolate coating.

Of all the Halloween costumes I saw tonight, only one made me reach for the camera. Here's a human Marshmallow Peep.

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

pour some sugar on medulla

The most interesting Halloween candy I spotted this year had to be the marshmallow brains on the shelf at Walgreens. They come in a plastic skull that is reminiscent of the Dia de los Muertos decorations that are especially popular in California. I didn't buy any since I already have a realistic plastic skull in my home office.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

here comes Sander Claus

The first stop on our current road trip was technically a make-good for an old trip. About five years ago, my son and I went to the World Chicken Festival in London, Kentucky. Because the words chicken and Kentucky were involved, I thought the festival would be a little closer than it was to the birthplace of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

After watching the parade, eating some chicken cooked in the World's Largest Skillet, having a deep-fried Twinkie for dessert, meeting a Colonel Sanders look-alike, meeting a Food Network camera crew, and watching the cluck-off competition, we just wanted to go home. Neither of us felt like stopping off in Corbin to see the original Sanders Cafe. By the way, the deep-fried Twinkie was not as good as it sounds. Oreos hold up much better to deep-frying.

The modern KFC attached to the old Sanders Cafe wasn't open yet when we got there last Saturday. The workers who had already arrived let us look around and take pictures. They asked if we were in town for the Nibroc Festival (Corbin spelled backwards), which happened to be that same weekend. Alas, we were only passing through.

The historical marker sign out front tells the story of how Colonel Sanders started serving food when the Depression slowed traffic at his gas station. Inside, there's a statue of a ghostly Colonel and a model of the motel and restaurant he opened to grow the business. He experimented with various ingredients and pressure frying methods until he came up with the recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken. His kitchen has been restored to what it looked like in 1940. In 1956, the Colonel heard the news that Interstate 75 would bypass his location. He sold that restaurant and began traveling and selling his fried chicken recipe to other restaurants.

The museum area has a display case with a Halloween mask of the Colonel. Another case has a record album titled "Christmas Eve with Colonel Sanders." While it would have been great to hear the Colonel sing, I can appreciate the fact that he included my favorite Christmas medley on his compilation disc.

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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

this is Halloween

The cooler weather, not Halloween inspired me to put on a plaid flannel shirt this morning. Later when I looked in the mirror, I realized I was dressed as Dr. Bill Bass.

The best Halloween costume I ever had was the Batman outfit I wore when I was in first grade. My mother had to special order it from a catalog because I didn't want the full face plastic mask that was sold in stores back then. The costume she found had a cloth cowl that wrapped around my head and a "Lone Ranger" style mask to cover my eyes. I started trick-or-treating and had only gotten as far as the third or fourth house when I was forever traumatized by a neighbor kid who pulled off my mask, breaking the elastic string in the process. Darn you, Kurt Teckmyer!

A reader named Lisa sent me a link to an online 1960s Batman quiz. If you can deal with the pop-up ads, the quiz is fun and challenging enough to hold the interest of a true fan like me. On Tuesday nights I've been having an ongoing conversation with Dave Fennell's brother Darrin about the Batmobile. His parents were friends with George Barris. He remembers that the car was covered in black velvet when he saw it as a child. The Batmobile I saw in the '90s was smooth and shiny. It turns out that the Batmobiles on the car show circuit in the '70s were covered in velvet to hide cracks and fingerprints.

When I was in grammar school, we always had the day after Halloween off from school. November 1st is the Solemnity of All Saints, a Catholic holy day of obligation. I'm looking forward to hearing the "Litany of the Saints" at Mass tomorrow night. My wife says that our friend Mary K. will sing it this year. Hey Mary K., the invitation still stands.

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

tricks and treat

It was still dark when we drove to church this morning. The odd feeling continued when the bells at All Saints Church didn't chime at the start of the 8:15 Mass. They did ring at 9:15 however. The computer that controls them must have thought that Daylight Saving Time ended last night. In previous years, the last weekend in October is when we experienced "The 25th Hour." This year the time change doesn't come until after Halloween, which should mean more daylight for the trick-or-treaters. While they were changing things, why couldn't they have moved the switch to an early Saturday morning?

Was I hallucinating or did I really see a few minutes of "Mannheim Steamroller's Halloween on Ice" yesterday on NBC? It looked like Nancy Kerrigan skating with Frankenstein's monster and several others. Like a good ghost story, this one turned out to be true.

Before I turned off the TV, I saw the answer to a Mannheim Steamroller trivia question. Did you know that Chip Davis co-created the character of C.W. McCall, best known for the song "Convoy"?

Halloween must be the first of the holidays that Weigel's is celebrating with the annual arrival of their Holiday Egg Nog. This year, the sweet treat showed up in the dairy case of my neighborhood Weigel's on Friday, October 26. It wouldn't bother me one bit if they carried it year round, like at the Wawa store I visited near Richmond.

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

ghostly things are gonna happen

Halloween is getting close. I can tell by an increase in the number of search engine hits I've been getting for the blog entry I wrote a year ago (exactly) about the novelty song "Halloween Spooks." Check out this mash-up video of the song with "Dark Shadows" footage.

The trick-or-treaters who come to our house this year will be gifted with new Spooky Friends from the makers of Marshmallow Peeps. My wife bought a bag of them and I must admit that I have already tried one and liked it. The individually wrapped piece of sugar-coated marshmallow goodness was perfect for me. The wrapper was somewhat difficult to open, which helped me eat only one. The problem I have with the traditional Peeps package is that once I open it, I want to eat all twelve or fifteen Peeps within.

The bag of Spooky Friends says that it contains "about 54 individually wrapped pieces." At the supermarket today I saw a package with ghosts, mummies and pumpkins. Until I looked it up, I thought the mummies were space aliens. The bag my wife bought has skulls, bats and spiders. The individual wrapping caused the company to outsource the manufacturing to China. As long as they're not coated in lead paint, I'm fine with it.

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Saturday, October 28, 2006

good times

The last weekend in October was always one of my favorite weekends of the year. As I mentioned last year, my friend Bean and I put together a one hour recorded show to fill the extra time on the WAVA music log when the clocks got turned back. It aired every year from 1985 to 1991 and I would try to stay up to hear it.

When we lived in Burbank, my wife and I got involved with staging a haunted house fundraiser at St. Finbar School. One year, I had one of the parent volunteers to dress as a TV news reporter. At the entrance, we showed a videotape with the basic safety announcements disguised as a news report about a killer on the loose. Once the customers got inside, they saw the killer and his victim, the TV reporter. Our friends Charlie and Anja were in charge of the haunted house and always threw a great "wrap party" at their home. Charlie is a comedy writer and always made sure the experience was as funny as it was scary. Even after the school discontinued the haunted house, Charlie and Anja continued hosting the parties and Charlie would dress as a recently deceased celebrity.

Next year the time change moves to after Halloween. The move to November is fine by me but I still think the clocks should be changed on a Friday night/Saturday morning, especially in the Spring. Any takers?

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

outside my window pane

Halloween is less than a week away but I'm not feeling it yet. To get in the right frame of mind, I need to hear a certain song by Lambert, Hendricks and Ross. "Halloween Spooks" is an old song from the '50s that I didn't discover until the '80s when it turned up on a compilation disc called "Elvira's Haunted Hits." Don & Mike saw the camp value of the tune when I suggested they play it on WAVA. In the '90s, Kevin & Bean had a lot of fun with it on KROQ, permanently cementing it into my Halloween psyche. A blog called Cake & Polka Parade has a link to an mp3 of "Halloween Spooks." If you have a little more time, you might enjoy a podcast that also includes ten other Halloween novelties at a site called Why Fidelity. I tried playing the song on each of the Knoxville stations where I've worked but none of my co-hosts enjoyed the bit. Apparently the "so bad it's good" concept is not for everyone.

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Thursday, September 07, 2006

tragedy plus time

My son is taking a personal finance class in high school. On Tuesday his class watched a video by Dave Ramsey. In the video, Dave was preaching about the danger of borrowing money. At one point Ramsey says that the Crocodile Hunter "is going to get it" someday because he is always working with deadly animals. The class was shocked. The teacher paused the video in disbelief.

Every year for Halloween, my friend Charlie dresses as a recently deceased celebrity. I will always remember his Payne Stewart costume. He should buy a khaki shirt and shorts soon. I think they'll be sold out by October.

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