The Power of the People

Never mind the traditional excesses of Thanksgiving, the horrors of Black Friday or the panic of the pre-Christmas rush. For afficionados of the sport of people-watching, the up-coming holiday season is the best season of the year. With crowds of impatient adults and captive children navigating the stormy seas of covetousness and retail madness from now until New Year’s Day, amusement should be easy to find.

In fact, I’ve already been amused. During a swing through our local Target store, I found myself waiting in the checkout line behind a child and his mother. The boy appeared to be about three, and he was fussy.  Hanging on to his mother’s skirt with both hands, he circled around and around until he found a comfortable spot, sandwiched between his mother and the cart. 

Peeking out from the folds of her skirt, he looked past us to the vibrant displays of candy and merchandise across the aisle. Using one hand to point to something, he tugged on her skirt with the other to gain attention.  Busy sorting through her purse, his mother ignored him while the rest of us started paying attention. (more…)

Published in: on November 18, 2012 at 3:40 pm  Comments (95)  
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The Sandburg Season

In the heart of Kansas, there’s a certain sweetness to Halloween celebrations, touched though they may be with autumn’s poignant tang. Corn shocks and smiling jack-o-lanterns abound, heaped atop hay bales and spilling from wagons pulled by broomsticked witches.

Still, goblins, ghoulies and ghosties skulk around the edges of consciousness,  not to mention old plots that insist on rising up from their graves – Psycho, Vertigo, Rebecca.  Hitchcock’s Birds wheel through the air, and while little ones delight in becoming princesses, pirates or talking pumpkins, blood drips and body parts pile up as vampires, zombies and other night-creatures seek to displace chainsaw-wielding psychopaths as the epitome of evil terror. (more…)

Published in: on October 29, 2012 at 11:27 am  Comments (78)  
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The People, Yes…

One of my amusements during the holiday season is people-watching.  Particularly in situations where crowds, lines and captive children are the norm, amusement is easy to find.

During a Wednesday-before-Thanksgiving swing through a local grocery, I landed behind a child and his mother in the checkout line.  The boy might have been three or four, and he was fussy.  Hanging on to his mother’s skirt, he circled around and around until he found safety, tucked between her and the cart.  Turning to look past us to the vibrant displays of merchandise across the aisle, he pointed to something, tugging on her skirt to gain attention.  Busy sorting through her purse, his mother ignored him – a mistake she would come to regret. (more…)

Published in: on November 27, 2009 at 2:39 am  Comments (11)  
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A Different Kind of Horror

 

Halloween is the season of horror.  Goblins, ghoulies and ghosties skulk around the edges of consciousness.  Television movie channels pull from their graves the remains of plots that refuse to die ~ Psycho, Vertigo, Rebecca – while Hitchcock’s Birds wheel through the air.  The little ones may delight in dressing up as princesses, pirates or warlords, but blood drips and body parts pile up for the vampires, zombies and other assorted creatures of the night who seek to displace chainsaw-wielding psychopaths as the epitome of evil terror. 

Everyone understands “there’s gold in them-thar dismemberments”, and across the country everything from neighborhood haunted houses to Universal Studios’ famous Halloween Horror Nights in Orlando is trying to take a bite out of the consumer.   We love to be entertained, and we love to be scared when we know it  doesn’t count.  With its witches’ brew of  Dia De Los Muertos skeletons, decorated graves, black cats,  and whacked-out pumpkins, Halloween is our perfect holiday.  All those sugar highs are lagniappe.

 

One of the most unlikely purveyors of horror might be the American poet, Carl Sandburg. He’s not much in favor these days. He’s too common, too plain-spoken.  He wasn’t considered “literary” in his day and today he’d be left out of most symposia and cocktail parties.  But he had vision, and he understood people. Like Whitman before him, he acknowledged his debt to the workers and builders, the families and businesses which knit this country together. (more…)

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