Friday, October 29, 2010


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.

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.

As European immigrants came to America, they brought their varied Halloween customs with them. Because of the rigid Protestant belief systems that characterized early New England, celebration of Halloween in colonial times was extremely limited there.

It 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 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.

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.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


New Orleans has to be one of most favorite cities.  How lucky am I to have an office there and get to go on business?  Damn lucky.  My boss Ed loves it there as well and chose this location to have our department's annual meeting!

We flew in Monday night, 10/18, and after checking in to the hotel, we hit  Bourbon St. for some live music and a beer. 

The first day of our conference we had some guest speakers lined up, which continued into the first half of the next day.  Interesting as well as informative on all counts!

That night, after a great dinner at ACME OYSTER, we went on a ghost tour.  Highly recommended!

The second day of the conference ended with a "Team Building" exercise which was a scavenger hunt in the famous French Quarter.  The staff was divided into two teams, whichever photographed the most items on the list (100 items!) won a comp day off.  My team was victorious with just under 70 items!

It all ended with a fantastic dinner at Brennen's Red Fish Grill.

Can't wait for the next reason to hit The Big Easy!

Friday, October 22, 2010


Art of the Highlands
show and sale

Barn Gallery, Ringwood Manor
October 24, 1-5 pm
We are partnering with the Plein Air Painters of the NJ Highlands and the Ringwood Manor Association of the Arts to present artworks inspired by the Highlands. The artists have graciously agreed to donate a portion of all proceeds from the sale to CLEAN.
Come out and support!


Seems like I haven't had a lot of time to blog lately because I have been fortunate enough to have been traveling.  Two weeks ago in Las Vegas, this week another favorite spot, New Orleans.  (More on NOLA later...)

I never tire of Vegas because it's always changing.  I wont bore you with the details, just a few fun things I did.


Amazing is all I can say.  I kinda grew up with Cher.  Music, TV, Movies.  Shes been everywhere and with good reason.  She is awesome.  She is ending her run in Vegas, so if you can, by all means, get there.




A friend of mine in NYC asked me the last time I was in Vegas if I was going to the Liberace Museum and my reply was, "HUH?  Are you kidding?!?"...  This time I went.  The main reason, after about 30 years, it is closing its doors for good.

I was amazed to see that is was way off the beaten track,  far from the strip, surrounded by a bunch of strip malls and gas stations. 

Inside you'll find his incredible collection of pianos, automobiles and costumes.  The staff was friendly and knowledgeable.  Sorry to see it go...

On the day of the closing, Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Doug Elfman noted that several overly enthusiastic fans attempted to remove some of the small mirrors decorating Liberace's Rolls-Royce, and another tried to steal a hood ornament from a car on display. At 4 PM, when the museum officially closed, a freak thunderstorm hit the valley and a double rainbow was seen in the sky.

Las Vegas Weekly Article


This place is terrific.  It is really the old style Vegas (my favorite kind!) that is made up of casinos, restaurants and gift stores all connected, and under a ceiling which is the worlds largest video screen (VIVA VISION).  Live music is in abundence as well as characters of every kind.  This is NOT to be missed!

The average Viva Vision light show is six minutes long.
  • Viva Vision’s projection surface is currently the largest screen in the world, spanning 1,500 feet in length (That’s the size of five football fields)
  • The screen contains 12.5 million synchronized LED lamps, including 180 strobes and eight robotic mirrors per block.
  • The lamp life of the bulbs is 50,000 hours.
  • Average daily attendance at the Fremont Street Experience is more than 25,000.
  • Last year, nearly 19 million people visited downtown Las Vegas

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

It's the HATE Pumpkin Charlie Brown!

This illustration is fantastic and truly the way the "classic" story should have turned out.
People who know me know two things...
1) I LOVE Halloween, and
2) I HATE Charles Shultz, and eveything about his beloved PEANUTS gang!

I know it almost sound un-American, but I can't help it.  These characters suck.

Today I heard that Peanuts turns 60, though with no sign of "retiremant on the horizon", it looks like these morons will be around forever.

Before long, ABC will be running the Halloween "special" yet again, since 1966, in the name of tradition. God, tradition can be so overrated!
I never have or never will find anything about this show funny at all!
If you choose to hear Linus lisping his way to the pumpkin patch, this is for you!

What we REALLY need is a Family Guy Halloween special!

Sunday, October 3, 2010


This afternoon, thanks to my friend and neighbor Kathleen, I actually went to pick up my photography award from the Ringwood Manor Arts Association and I'm glad I did.  It was fun. 

On the way back, We stopped at Skylands Lake.  There was a bit of an Autumn (finally!) chill in the air and you could see the leaves beginning to change.  There was a lot going on there.  A bicycle race, boaters on the lake and Simon.  Kind of a local celebrity.  You may recognize him from various pet websites!