Showing posts with label halloween. Show all posts
Showing posts with label halloween. Show all posts

Friday, November 1, 2013

Trick or Treat

Halloween has arrived and departed.  It’s one of the holidays I greatly relish because it has no significance.  It’s not like Easter/Passover or New Year’s or Independence Day.  All those holidays have deeper and more meaningful significance.  Halloween, with its rich traditions of pagan rituals, celebratory bonfires, the opening of graves so the dead can walk in the world of the living, is so out of place in the modern world.  Halloween now has become an excuse to dress up and extort candy from the neighbors.

And I love it.

For one, it’s acceptable to visit with the kids who come to your door demanding a candy tribute. That’s not anything you can do at the mall or a city playground without looking for trouble.  You can joke with strangers who walk up your driveway and laugh with them about their children. 

The older kids, whose costumes consist of their ordinary clothes and a plastic bag, smirk when they get their candy.  They think they are putting one over on you.  Little do they know we’re wise to them and did the same thing 50 (!) years ago.  The joke's on them if they think they’ve discovered something original.

It was suggested I should dress in a ghillie suit with a sniper rifle (toy, of course) to hand out candy. 


That way when I get the challenge “Trick or treat!” I could choose trick and offer to give them a head start with the advice to zig-zag. That seems a little too aggressive and probably not scary to kids raised on handsome, shirtless vampires.

Man in ghillie suit hidden in weeds
I don't know about you, but I find this pretty scary!!

Best of all, I get to carve a jack-o-lantern.  I described my idea to my wife and got the old, “He’s just flapping his gums again.”  I don’t care.  We joke about pumpkin guts and draw sketches on the newspaper work surface of the eyes we want  before we select one.  It doesn’t matter how little carving talent you have, the pumpkins always seem to turn out properly spooky.

This year I turned to my S&W HRT Team knife (trust me, no HTR uses this knife) to insure my jack-o-lantern turned out right.  I didn’t carve with it.  I stuck it in its ear.  Anyone who asked about the knife, I told ‘em “Yeah, that’s my team knife.  I won’t need it until later tonight so I thought I‘d get a little use out of now.”  Most of them left wondering about that.  Nobody returned their candy, so I guess I didn’t scare anyone too much.

HRT Knife in pumpkin ear
Ouch!  That's going to leave a mark.
My pumpkin carving is highly dependent on three things: a black magic marker that can be scrubbed off with Goo Gone, a stout pewter sugar scoop my wife doesn’t use for sugar, and her father’s Marttiini fish knife. 

Marttini knife on catalog
There's nothing like a thin blade for cutting a face into a pumpkin.

I’ve tried other cutting implements, including a potato peeler and chain saw.  The peeler worked so–so, the chain saw not at all.  It was, however, remarkably therapeutic and satisfying to use the chain saw.  I recommend it to any of you after a tough day at work.

Sunday, October 31, 2010


There was (cue: large animal breathing in background) was a time that a man … (cue: sounds of chains dragging on stone) would take a knife and press it against flesh. And he would try to carve a new face … he would slip and cry out in pain … and … and (Oh the horror of it!) the mouth lost another tooth!

Yes we are. We’re talking about carving gourds, specifically about carving pumpkins. Happy Halloween! BOOOOOOOO!

I read some people use saber saws to jig-saw carve jack-o-lanterns. I know how messy that would be. One year I tried to use a chain saw to get an edgy effect. It took me days to clean the pumpkin guts from my saw and to mop up the splatter.

Go back to the simpler approach, I say. I saw a dad and his son sitting on the front porch today, each carving a pumpkin with a knife. They were surrounded by orange chips and cubes of pumpkin. I miss doing that with my father. He’s in Florida, a little too far to go to carve gourds.

I have a few tools I always fall back on.

I start by laying out the operating table. That’s a piece of plywood covered with newspaper. I use my wife’s pewter-like scoop to scrape out the pumpkin. The yellow wood and red plastic knives are really pumpkin saws. The red one is designed for children. It’s pretty flimsy but the small size lets me cut tighter curves. Next to it is a Columbia River Knife and Tool fixed blade. I’ve had it for years and can’t remember its name, but it’s a new addition to the lineup. I wanted a small, but stiff blade with a guard for the open cuts. Next to it is CRKT’s Big Eddy fileting knife. I really like this knife for cutting flesh… pumpkin flesh that is.

Like any good surgeon I mark the cutting field and then ad lib.

Eeeeuuwww! Pumpkin brains!

My wife and I sketch the mouth; argue about eyes, eyebrows and ears. (I’m opposed to ears, they seem ineffectual in adding more character to the face.)

Say AHHHHH and open wide
Soon we get the face knifed carved out. Because we are working on the outside of a thick-walled, misshapen ball, the features seen on the inside of the pumpkin are smaller than the outside. I need to open up the features so light can come out and I’m after translucent edges. I just think that makes for a spookier jack-o-lantern.

Oops! Got to trim the mucous membranes back a bit

Finally I get it finished and out on the porch. I’m looking forward to talking with the kids and handing out candy. It’s the one time of year I can interact with children like this. I really enjoy talking to them and their parents.

As a child, I thought Halloween was for kids. Now I know it’s for adults.

I can’t wait to see it all lit up.