Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, somehow or other Halloween has snuck up on ol’ Robbo this year while his attention was turned elsewhere.  The idea more or less came into focus today first when I received this article on teh Facebook feed about a Polish Archbishop fretting over the whole satanic biznay, and second when I saw a  rayther attractive young woman crossing Constitution Avenue this evening rigged out in a short, black dress and orange and black-striped leggings, carrying a witch’s hat, and, no doubt, feeling one hell of a fool.

Eh.  In general, I’ve got no problem with Halloween in its sanitized, kiddy version.   For the record, teh youngest gel is the only one planning to go out this year.  She ginned up a costume of her own design that I can only describe as the love child of a Smurf and one of Maurice Sendak’s Wild Things.

As to teh evil, well.  Groups of thugs going about and vandalizing?  Adults dressing up as Miley Cyrus, naughty nurses and nuns and the like and indulging in bacchanals?  Yeah, that’s a spiritual problem, and a serious one.  But little Johnny is not setting out on the path to hell just because he puts on a Boba-Fett costume and goes round the neighborhood scooping in candy.   (Especially if he – or in our case she – has ol’ Dad standing by to bloviate about the Feasts of All Saints and All Souls, two of his favorite days in the liturgical calendar.)

Indeed, I still recall  a bloggy comment from some years back (now lost somewhere in the Llama Archives):  A bunch of my traddy-Catholic friends were discussing faith-based costume ideas, this being a popular thing in this particular crowd.  Among the suggestions were various angels, saints and martyrs, but I recall in particular that one suggestion  was to dress little Johnny as a Jesuit missionary.

A wag in the comments remarked, “Just add Hurons!”

Between my Convert Derangement Syndrome and my historickal geekery, I laughed and laughed.  I still do.

Anyhoo, the point I really wanted to make in this post is much smaller but plainer:  There is a right way to carve a jack-o-lantern and there is are many wrong ones.

The right way involves the traditional three triangles and jagged mouth:



The wrong ways involve, well, anything that can be labeled “pumpkin sculpture”:

All Wrong

All Wrong


I know there are friends of the decanter who will disagree with me about this, but pray hear out my argument.  The former decoration, primitive as it may be, speaks directly to the, er, spirit of the day.   The notion of a time when the door between the realms of the living and the dead swings open just a bit goes right down to some primary synapse in our psyche, some Jungian racial memory, some religious truth.  Every time I have ever seen ol’ Jack grinning at me from out of the gloom, I have always felt a certain chill run up and down my spine.

The latter?   It’s simply showing away.  It’s “art”.  It’s a mile wide and an inch deep.  It has nothing to do with the real essence and instead brays out, “Hey, y’all, check out what a clever pumpkin sculptor I am!”


Feh.  Look, I grant you the technical impressiveness, but as I say there’s no soul there, no primordial creepifying, no hint of majick, black or otherwise.   As is so typical of this wretched age, it’s simply another manifestation of teh Ego.

So (he said, thumping the table), that is ol’ Robbo’s opinion.   I will end by saying first that this year Mrs. R and teh gels are on their own carving the Port Swiller Pumpkin since I will not have been home in time to assist¹, and second that I plan, as I always do,  to grab the decanter and scurry down to the basement in order to ignore any little imps that come a-knocking at our front door.   Not that they often knock – we’ve taken to putting a bowl of goodies on the step with a “Help yourselves” sign and left it at that.   Teh kiddies get teh swag and I avoid having to deal with them.  Everybody wins.


¹ Because of teh peculiarities of WordPress’s default clock, I’m actually writing this the evening of October 30.