When I was a kid, an October ritual was watching It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!, and being thankful I wasn't growing up like Linus.
Poor Linus, the beautiful loser of the sandbox set. Alone in his belief in the Great Pumpkin, alone in his quest for the most sincere pumpkin patch, and (apart from Sally, who somehow still called him baboo after a humiliating night amid overgrown squash) alone in his refusal to take the easiest pickings of candy around.
Yet … we all identify with Linus, a little boy who nonetheless stuck with his values, as peculiar as they may be.
* The Great Pumpkin Trivia Quiz
But, how well do you remember the animated Schulz classic? Even having just read a book adaptation to my own little fellow (with my own unscripted moral directives, which included both 'believe in yourself' and 'don't forget to accept free chocolate'), I have to confess I did not do all that well in my recollection of Linus' great adventures.
* Unicef Canada
Another thing that brings the Halloweens of childhood screaming (pardon the pun) back is the ubiquitous orange Unicef box. For some reason, they don't seem to be as prevalent these days. All the same, I'm keeping a bowl of coins ready with the treats this weekend. The Unicef Canada page is featuring Halloween content these days, with separate content for kids, parents and teachers.
* Pumpkin Patch
We got our first pumpkin of the season quite early ― in late September, from a local farm. We've since picked up no less than three others. Yep, we have a pumpkin-obsessed son, and the carvings to prove it. Check in here to read up on your favourite vegetable (or, botanically at least, is it a fruit?).
* Halloween Safety
Tips for both children and adults make this a worthy bit of reading leading up to pumpkinfest.
* What Is Your Jack-o-Lantern Face?
Having always pegged myself as the happy-go-lucky sort, I was glad to have that confirmed by a pumpkin-themed personality quiz over the Internet. Find what your inner smile (or grimace) is here.
* Zombie Pumpkins
Speaking of jack-o-lanterns … There appear to be a ghastly (sorry, but the puns are just too easy on a topic like this) number of places to find stencils for pumpkin carving. Here's a site that aims to push the boundaries, with some wicked little designs. Warning: the stencils aren't free. However, for as little as US $2 (via PayPal or other means), you can gain access to the site.
* Halloween: The history lesson
We're not all fun and games here this week; here's an 22-year-old essay from the American Folklife Centre, which succinctly traces the ancient roots of Halloween.
Elsewhere this week
* Ad Tunes
This tidbit surprised me: some of the hottest things moving on legal download sites are music from commercials ― and not necessarily the pop songs that clipped to dress up a soda or bag of chips. I shouldn't be too surprised, though; advertising companies have become quite good at finding the hooks that get into your brain and settle in for a long stay.
* Jump The Shark
Jump The Shark's moment three years or so ago, when its principal idea ― picking the turning point when a show started to tank (on Happy Days, it was when Fonzie donned waterskis to jump some sharks) ― caught on like wildfire. It's still running, with entries on more than 2,000 shows. That's a whole lotta jumpin' going on.
John Gushue is a news writer for CBC.ca in St. John's. E-mail: surf at thetelegram.com.