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A few of his favorite things of the season

| Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013, 8:55 p.m.

Random (unspooky?) thoughts on the day after Halloween:

• Halloween runs counter to today's culture. It actually calls for neighbors to visit neighbors, to talk and laugh and appreciate one another's creativity.

It all happens right on the front porches or just inside the doorways and teaches children the value of neighborhood (not that they should expect candy to always be in the mix).

Counterculture? Yes, indeed, in an age when we have become fearful of one another. Caution is wise, fear is damaging. Trick-or-treating shows us there are not bogymen everywhere.

• Another lesson from the holiday: Not all communication between people needs to be tapped out using one's thumbs.

• Much of today's so-called horror films seem to rely on heinous crimes, blood and guts kind of stuff. I'd rather have the Vincent Price or Lon Chaney kind of film based on literature by Edgar Allan Poe, Gaston Leroux or Mary Shelley. It was more “boo” and less “ooowh (as in gross).” I miss Chilly Billy Cardille and “Chiller Theater.”

• I have to say that as I have aged I am less inclined to watch or read any stories of the horror genre. No matter how scary a horror film or ghost story can get, it never is as awful as news from around the globe.

• The holiday does highlight our fascination with death and ghosts, etc. But perhaps we can think of it as the dark before the light of what will be Thanksgiving and Christmas and the start of a new year.

• This is the first day of November and it is the day that Mary Ellen and I traditionally start to play holiday music at home and in our cars, though our grown adult children find it bizarre. We don't usually start with the “Silent Night” kind of thing, more like “River” or maybe Mathias singing “My Favorite Things.”

I have heard the argument that Christmas celebrating gets started too earlier and folks are played out of spirit by the time the holiday week is actually here.

We, however, think that Christmas music is too good to be played only the week of the holiday. If you want to give it a try, listen to some of the great instrumental numbers.

• I feel a kind of counter intuitive comfort and peace set in as the weather turns blustery in November. I begin having visions of a hot cup of tea and watching a black and white film set in England in the 1800s or early 1900s on Turner Movie Classics. It might feature some well-known actor such as Laurence Olivier or Donald Crisp. Maybe something set on the moors with castles and thatched roof houses.

• Another thing to do as the air begins to chill is to walk along the river or one of the nearby trails. It clears the cobwebs as the old saying has it and restores appreciation of life that might be waning after a hard week at work.

• If feasible, get one of the young folks in the family to join you on such a walk, but insist that he or she not bring a phone-connected-to-everything along. It may be an epiphany for the child.

• This time of year, we join those who utter the phrase “batten down the hatches” even though none of us live on ships where hatchways were covered and battens used to hold the covering in place.

• We like the feeling of getting tucked in safely. I feel good when the porch furniture is in and the screens stowed away.

• This is the time when folks like to light up their scented candles, put on a cozy sweater, grab a book and head for the most overstuffed bit of furniture. An afghan helps.

• I watched the PBS piece on Tuesday about the infamous Orson Welles “The War of the Worlds” in 1938 that sent so many people into a panic, thinking as they did that the radio theater was actually a news broadcast. Two thoughts:

It was nice seeing the pictures of families gathered together around the radio and not sitting separately each with their own media in hand. Yet, it is important to note that with all the media available today it is unlikely folks could be so duped today. (Well, maybe they can.)

Meandering appears Fridays. To share your thoughts on this column (or on most anything) with News Editor Mike O'Hare, write to the Leader Times, P.O. Box 978, Kittanning, PA 16201 or via e-mail to

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