I love pumpkin. It’s my favourite vegetable. I love the colour and shape of them. I love the fact that they are all so different. If there were ever a type of vegetable that embraced individuality, the gourds and squashes would be it.
When I visited Canada, I loved seeing them decorating shops, gardens, front porches, letterboxes, streetscapes… they were everywhere. What really surprised me is how little pumpkin they actually seemed to eat, unless it was in a pie.
Speaking of which, I need some pumpkin pie. I adore pumpkin pie, but it’s really hard to get here in Australia.
While I’m daydreaming about that most delectable of desserts, please enjoy this rumination on ‘pumpkin’ via Sesquiotica.
It’s true that Shakespeare isn’t usually associated with horror, but there are a number horror and macabre scenes in his plays that are genuinely creepy and very dark.
So, this ’spooky season’, I’ll be sharing those scenes with you via Shakespeare Nerd.
As I noted in a post last week, the first scene of Macbeth is my favourite opening scene among all the plays, so that’s a great place to start.
Often referred to as the Weird Sisters, the witches of ‘Macbeth’ open the play with a powerfully macabre and horrifying scene. There is a cauldron in the middle of the cavern, around which the witches dance and recite the list of ingredients in the potion they are making.
Just reading the recipe is enough to make one’s skin crawl – and we are nowhere near as superstitious as Shakespeare’s original audiences.
In 1606 when the play is thought to have first been performed, audiences then would have both living memory and current knowledge of witch trials and persecutions, and would have been very wary of anything to do with witches and magic.
Shakespeare knew what we was doing, though. James I had been king of England for a few years, and did not enjoy universal popularity among his English subjects. By portraying the witches and Macbeth as evil, he was…
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As a writer, inspiration can come from anywhere.
Last week, as my friends and I were sitting in a shopping centre food court, I watched a young boy carefully picki his nose, eating the booger, and follow it with a chicken nugget. He did this at least three times,
At a table nearby, another young boy watched too, with disbelief and horror written all across his face.
The scene amused me, and I filed a mental note about it. Did the second boy never pick his nose, I wondered, or was he just appalled by the thought of eating it?
As I was driving home, a story came to me.
It seems fitting that it is a macabre story, given that it is October and Halloween will soon be upon us.
However, when I went looking for a copyright free image of a kid with their finger up their nose, I couldn’t find a single one. You would think that with the world-wide resources of the internet at our fingertips, things like that wouldn’t be so hard to find. There were stock images available, but I generally refuse to use those because, like all Indie authors, I’m on a budget and that seems like a luxury to me.
One Facebook post later, my cousin came to the rescue. Her young son was only too happy to stick his finger up his nose for the camera, and now he’s my little hero. He loves creepy stories, so I’ve promised to write one for him. I just have to wait for a little more strange inspiration to come my way.
I hope you enjoy The Final Blow.
“How many times do I have to tell you not to pick your nose?”
Sam sighed. All he wanted to do was dislodge those crusty bits that stabbed the inside of his nostrils every time she made him blow into a tissue, and remained there stubbornly regardless of his efforts with the tissue. Those things hurt, and they didn’t let go on their own.The best way to remove them was gently, with his favourite finger, and then flick them into the bin.
She should just be thankful he never wanted to eat it. He didn’t understand how other kids could. Just the other day when they had gone out for lunch he had watched another boy in the restaurant eating his booger off his finger before picking up a chicken nugget and eating that. He shuddered at the thought.
“You don’t know…
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As an Australian, I get very mixed responses when I tell people I enjoy Halloween.
Some see it as an opportunity for the community to share in something fun. In my town, the local Scout group organises the trick or treating so that the kids are supervised. Anyone wanting the kids to visit them for treats must be registered and checked out first. One of the local cafes sets up a House of Horror for everyone to enjoy, free of charge, and various other businesses run promotions.
Most Aussies, however, respond with something like “Ugh, It’s so American!” or “It’s just more commercialism!”
While it’s true that Halloween hasn’t historically been a big part of our culture in Australia, most are surprised to discover it’s not an American thing at all. It actually originated as a Celtic celebration of Samhain in Ireland, and from there spread to Scotland, Wales, England and France. In a strange coincidence, the British who landed in Australia in 1788 thinking they owned the place also originated in those places, so there’s that.
My first real experience of celebrating and embracing Halloween was in Canada, where it was all about community and celebrating the season, rather than commercial opportunism. It was wonderful. People decorated their homes and yards as a sign to kids that they were welcome to visit on their trick or treating routes. People in the streets wished each other a happy Halloween. We visited an apple orchard that offered hayrides and a corn maze, in addition to picking your own apples and enjoying the fare of the kitchen. October was a time of festivity and community amidst the changing of the season and the anticipation of winter’s arrival, made all the more cheerful by the brightness of pumpkins decorating shops, streets, gateposts, homes, and anywhere else people chose to put them.
Sure, the shops sold more chocolates and toys designed to give to kids who came knocking. But why can’t that be seen as a boost to the economy, rather than soulless exploitation of shoppers? If people don’t want to join in the celebration, they are not obligated to do or buy anything at all.
It is fair to say, though, that the growing popularity of Halloween in Australia is the result of the predominance of American TV and movies on Australian screens. People can complain about Halloween all they like, but until they’re willing to stop watching all the American shows and films they tune into religiously each week, or binge watch on weekends, it’s quite a hypocritical objection to raise. You can’t complain about your neighbour’s kids dressing up to go trick or treating if you can’t pause the latest episode of ’The Haunting of Hill House’ or ‘Riverdale’ to answer the door.
Ultimately, people can make their own choices. There’s no obligation to join in, but there’s also no need to be supercilious about it.
I’ll be celebrating Spooky Season all month, and joining in the Halloween festivities in my town again this year. And I’ll be loving every moment of it.