The Skarey Skelly '07 Halloween Album ... NEW! International Edition

Happy Halloween, kids! Well, you guys are certainly getting spread around the geography. Now all you have to do is start bearing fruit and multiplying and, like Pinky, I can start dreaming about how to take over the world (while there's still something left worth taking over).

Daddy doesn't have too much to say this year. He's tired. Your mother works me like a dog, and I've worn myself out with past years' efforts, and you never listen anyway. Besides, the newspapers are chock full every day of better stuff than I could ever make up.

Our new neighbors across the street are seriously into Halloween, or maybe they're just seriously into colored lights and arts and crafts. I'll know better when Christmas rolls around. But this may be my year to find out if Linus was right after all; if there's anyplace in Charlotte the Great Pumpkin is going to alight, this house across the street has got to be the place. So they get the first picture. Then the rest will be my own single, sorry-ass Jack-O-Lantern and a picture of your mother that she'll despise and order me not to put up, an order I will of course ignore. (That's where you get that from, Sarah.) Plus gaggles of local urchins, assuming any are worth setting up the camera for and I'm still sober enough to do it. Otherwise I'll just take several shots of the fireplace and call it a night.

Every year, the U.S. Census Bureau publishes a press release featuring Halloween-related statistics. It turns out the statistics I published last year came originally from this source as well. This year's release was dated August 30, 2007, proving that the Census Bureau is on top of dealing with the press. It also proves that they do so by relying heavily on boilerplate. This year's intro is identical to last year's. Kind of the same way the current administration promotes its wars.

"The observance of Halloween, which dates back to Celtic rituals thousands of years ago, has long been associated with images of witches, ghosts, devils and hobgoblins. Over the years, Halloween customs and rituals have changed dramatically. Today, many of the young and young at heart take a more light-spirited approach. They don scary disguises or ones that may bring on smiles when they go door to door for treats, or attend or host a Halloween party."

“Trick or Treat!”

36.1 million
The estimated number of potential trick-or-treaters in 2006 — children 5 to 13 — across the United States, down 45,000 from 2005. Of course, many other children — older than 13, and younger than 5 — also go trick-or-treating.

109.6 million
Number of occupied housing units across the nation in 2006 — all potential stops for trick-or-treaters.

Percentage of households who consider their neighborhood safe. In addition, 78 percent said they were not afraid to walk alone at night. (Source: Extended Measures of Well-Being: Living Conditions in the United States, 2003, at

Jack-O’-Lanterns and Pumpkin Pies

1 billion pounds
Total production of major pumpkin-producing states in 2006. Illinois led the country by producing 492 million pounds of the vined orange gourd. Pumpkin patches in California, Ohio and Pennsylvania also provided lots of pumpkins: Each state produced at least 100 million pounds. The value of all pumpkins produced by major pumpkin-producing states was $101 million.

Number of U.S. manufacturing establishments that produced chocolate and cocoa products in 2005, employing 38,718 people and shipping $13.6 billion worth of goods. California led the nation in the number of chocolate and cocoa manufacturing establishments, with 128, followed by Pennsylvania, with 121. and (2005 Value of Product Shipments)

Number of U.S. establishments that manufactured nonchocolate confectionary products in 2005. These establishments employed 21,389 people and shipped $7.6 billion worth of goods that year. California also led the nation in this category, with 73 establishments.

26 pounds
Per capita consumption of candy by Americans in 2006; it is believed a large portion is consumed around Halloween.

Number of costume rental and formal wear establishments across the nation in 2005.

Word, dog.

Love, Dad

Last year's pictures
Special Halloween Treat. Mommy says you'll remember this from Travell

And now, tonight's top stories ....

Who gets to go trick-or-treating this year?
October 28, 2007
Associated Press, Washington

A new AP poll finds that two-thirds of parents will let their children go door to door for Halloween. But fewer minorities will allow their children to go collect candy.

Seventy-three percent of whites polled say they'll allow trick-or-treating, while 56% of minority respondents said the same.

The poll finds that minorities and lower-income people are more likely to be concerned about safety in their neighborhoods. Still, many who find their neighborhoods safe say they'll take precautions.

Meanwhile, half of the respondents who said they won't let their children go say it's because they don't celebrate Halloween.

Nearly two-thirds of people surveyed said they'll pass out candy.

Lahaina revelers urged to ride the bus on Halloween
Sunday October 22, 2007
Lila Fujimoto, The Maui News, Lahaina

With parking limited and a four-block section of Lahaina closed to vehicles, Maui police Capt. Charles Hirata is urging residents planning to participate in Halloween in Lahaina to use the county’s Maui Bus Halloween Express.

Front Street will be closed to traffic and parking in Lahaina town will be limited starting Wednesday afternoon, as police and organizers prepare for a keiki parade, costume contest and other Halloween activities.

With 25,000 to 30,000 people expected to attend the annual event, police are reminding motorists that traffic into and through Lahaina town will be slowed.

“Take advantage of the bus, you don’t have to worry about driving,” said Hirata, commander of the Lahaina Patrol District. “If you want to imbibe and go home, you can do so. Just make sure somebody picks you up from the bus stop.”

The Maui Bus has added a Kihei route to its Halloween Express service to and from Lahaina town. Buses leave from South Kihei Road at Kilohana Street at 5, 6 and 7 p.m. In Wailuku, War Memorial Stadium is the departure point, with buses leaving at 5:30, 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. Buses returning to Wailuku and Kihei leave from Front Street at 9 and 10 p.m. and midnight.

The cost is $1 per route. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 871-4838.

A more expensive but entertaining option is offered by the Pacific Whale Foundation, which is running a Halloween cruise from Maalaea to Lahaina on Wednesday evening. The cost is $69.95; call 249-8811 for reservaitons.

Along with monitoring traffic into Lahaina, police traffic officers will set up DUI checkpoints along the Honoapiilani Highway for traffing coming into and going out of Lahaina.

Police will step up enforcement on Front Street this year, with nearly 100 police officers expected to be on duty, Hirata said. Alcohol is baned in all public areas of the Lahiana Historic District, which includes all of the section of town closed to vehicles.

Officers will be on the lookout for underage drinking and curfew violations, as well as people drinking alcohol on the street.

“If you’re going to drink on Front Street, don’t expect to get a warning,” Hirata said. “You can expect enforcement action. Putting it in a paper bag does not mean it’s OK.”

Along with enforcement of alcohol violations, police will be looking for weapons, including toy replicas of guns, knives, swords or clubs that may be used as part of costumes. Police will inspect such items and confiscate any that are found to be real or which can be used in a dangerous way. Charges could be brought against people found with such weapons.

While some people may find it amusing to spray liquids and throw eggs, stink bombs or firecrackers, such practices can be dangerous and violators will be prosecuted, Hirata said.

Police also will restrict oversized costumes that could impede or endanger pedestrians on Front Street, limiting ponderous costumes to the costume contests being held at the Wharf Cinema Center and Banyan Tree Park.

Except for registered service animals, dogs and other animals will not be allowed.

At 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, police will close Front Street between Baker and Prison streets, with parking prohibited. At the same time, parking will be banned on Dickenson Street between Front and Luakini streets; on Lahainaluna Road between Front and Luakini streets; and on Papalaua Street from Front Street to the entrance of Lahaina Center. Vehicles left on those streets will be cited and towed.

Police expect to reopen Front Street by 2 a.m. Thursday.

The new Halloween: Grown-ups dress up
October 28, 2007
Mitch Albom, Detroit Free Press

When did adults start dressing for Halloween? Last thing I knew, Halloween was for kids and it was mostly about candy. Check that. It was all about candy. I honestly didn't care if I went as a pirate, Scooby-Doo or a bedsheet, as long as my bag was filled with Milky Ways.

As for my parents? Their job was not to dress up. Their job was to go through our candy like airport security and remove all apples, marshmallows, anything that might have a razor blade in it or anything that might have been cooked by this weird woman up the street who never came out of her house.

My parents did not have costumes. My parents did not go to Halloween parties. At Halloween, my parents mostly rolled their eyes and said things like, "Again, we're gonna have to take them to the dentist."

So I am a bit lost when I see how Halloween has been usurped by grown-ups. I recently read where women -- not girls, but women -- are dressing up for Halloween this year as Paris Hilton in Prison, which is, according to photos in USA Today, a black-striped outfit of pink material that barely covers a woman's rear end and unzips to reveal cleavage. Apparently, some are adding little dogs as accessories.

Now it's the kids who roll their eyes.

According to, more than 63% of adults participate in Halloween, and it is the third-biggest occasion for adult parties, just after the Super Bowl and New Year's Eve.

I'm not sure I get this. I have gone to adult Halloween parties. At one, I dressed up because we were supposed to dress up. But I quickly realized that after you see your friend as a giant lizard, Richard Nixon or a Cabbage Patch doll, and after you squeal, "Oh my god, what are YOU supposed to be?" there's pretty much nothing else to do but drink. Which can be hard to do if you're wearing a Darth Vader mask.

I knew of these two guys who, one Halloween, got so elaborate. One dressed as a giant box with legs and the other dressed as a big insect. And every few seconds, the insect guy would slam into the other guy, then fall down as if dead. Finally, after a dozen of these performances, someone asked what they were supposed to be, and they answered: "A Roach Motel."

I'm sorry. But that's overthinking it.

But this is what happens when adults usurp a kiddie idea. Adults come in existential costumes (all black, "Look, I'm Donald Rumsfeld's conscience"), wordplay costumes (an Army top and an Army bottom, as "upper and lower GI's") and, yes, celebrity mimic costumes.

According to USA Today, Britney Spears, Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton are at the top of adult costume lists. Why? All we do all year is make fun of them. Now we want to dress up like them?

And what exactly do you do once you're dressed up like Richie? NOT eat? Doesn't that violate the spirit of the holiday?

And here's another thing. According to an Ohio research group, more than 7 million households will actually -- I kid you not -- dress up their PETS for Halloween.

Now, that does it. You may enjoy going door-to-door in drag, but I can guarantee your dog does not. Dogs just want to know when they're going to eat.

So unless your neighbors are dishing out Kibbles 'n Bits, leave your poor dog at home. You may enjoy sweating, itching and squirming inside a Johnny Depp pirate mask, but dogs know better.

And so do I. At the risk of suffering ridicule and scorn from my fellow adults, I am going to state my case right here: If there's no candy in a bag, I'm not going out. You know what that is? That's the true spirit of Halloween, that's what that is.

Eye Candy
Little girls' Halloween costumes are looking more like they were designed by Victoria's Secret every year. Are we prudes or is this practically kiddie porn?
Oct 29, 2007
Matthew Philips, Newsweek Web Exclusive

Apparently, witches aren't ugly anymore; they're sexy. So are pirates and pumpkins and princesses--traditional little girl Halloween costumes that used to say, Isn't she cute? now scream, That's hot! with an increasing array of halter tops, bare midriffs and miniskirts. Costume catalogs and Web sites, filled with images of pouty preteens modeling the latest in Halloween fashion, seem almost to verge on child pornography, and ooze with attitude. Witches are "wayward" and grammar-school pirates are "wenches." A girl isn't an Army cadet, she's a "Major Flirt," and who knew female firefighters wore fishnet stockings? Even Little Bo Peep comes with a corset, short skirt and lacy petticoat.

And while complaints about "slutty" kids' costumes may seem like a yearly parents' lament, the industry has been ramping up the sex appeal to ever younger groups of girls. It's not just 10- and 12-year-olds who have gone Halloween trampy. Now 6- and 7-year-old models are featured in catalogs wearing child-sized versions of skimpy costumes that used to be reserved for adult boudoirs. If you think we're exaggerating, note that they're actually selling something called a "Child's Chamber Maid Costume." And, many of the tween girls in the photographs are wearing more make-up than Christina Aguilera on awards night. More disturbing may be their expressions--they look as if they've been told to give the camera their best "sexy" gaze.

Tack on all the licensed outfits from popular TV shows and toy lines like Cheetah Girls, Bratz and Hannah Montana, and parents are having to search farther a field for something that won't make their little trick-or-treater look like a lady of the night. But with adolescent girls parading around in short-shorts that say JUICY across the bottom, and every younger girls aspiring to be a diva of some sort, is it any wonder that their Halloween costumes have gotten racier? "No, but it is distressing," says Joe Kelly, founder of the advocacy group Dads and Daughters. He sees the trend as symptomatic of a deeper issue. "The hypersexualization of younger and younger girls only serves to reinforce gender roles. When an 8-year-old girl can't find a doctor costume because all they have are nurse outfits, that's a problem." Celia Rivenbark, author of the 2006 parental manifesto "Stop Dressing your Six-Year-Old Like a Skank," has noticed it too, and says that Halloween has become "just another excuse for little girls to dress like sluts."

This year Americans will spend close to $2 billion on Halloween costumes, nearly double what they spent in 2003, according to the National Retail Federation. With so much money up for grabs, more and more retailers have elbowed their way into the costume market, increasing the pressure to offer a unique take on old favorites. "The idea of vamping up the appeal of the costume is something we've seen a lot of," says NRF spokesperson Kathy Grannis. So while the variety of costumes has certainly increased, they all look more and more alike. Whether it's a "Midnight Fairy Rock Girl," a "Scar-let Pirate" or "Miss-Behaved," chances are if you buy your daughter the costume she really wants, the one all the other little girls are wearing, she'll show up at the neighbor's doorstep in a choker collar, high-heels and baring enough skin to give you a real fright.

These new "edgier" costumes are simply reflections of pop culture, says Jackie MacDonald, a costume buyer for catalog giant Lillian Vernon. "Girls today seem to like a little pizzazz. The same old princesses aren't where it's at anymore," she says, before carefully noting, "We don't want to say they're sexier, just more confident."

Not that there's anything patently wrong with young girls wanting to look pretty. Child psychologists agree that embracing and understanding their attractiveness is a key part of early-adolescent development for girls. But when sexiness and body image become the sole criteria by which they judge themselves and each other, "That's when we start to see problems," says Dr. Eileen Zurbriggen, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who last year chaired the American Psychological Association's (APA) Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls. Their report, issued in February, declared that, "Throughout U.S. culture, and particularly in mainstream media, women and girls are depicted in a sexualized manner."

That shouldn't come as much of a surprise to anyone who's watched TV or thumbed through a magazine in the last 50 years. But what might be news is the increasing evidence of the negative impact an overemphasis on body image has on girls' lives. The APA task force's team of psychologists linked oversexualization with three of the most common mental health problems for women 18 and older: eating disorders, low self-esteem and depression. And there is evidence that the effect is trickling down the age brackets. "Clinicians are reporting that younger and younger girls are presenting with eating disorders and are on diets," says Zurbriggen.

Dr. Sharon Lamb, also on the APA task force, has recently coauthored a book, "Packaging Girlhood: Rescuing Our Daughters From Marketing Schemes," which includes a chapter devoted solely to sexy Halloween costumes. Lamb points out that most Web sites selling kids Halloween costumes divide merchandise along gender lines, and typically offer more choices for boys than girls (boys get to be doctors, police officers as well as gory monsters and "Star Wars" characters). Of the 22 girl costumes featured on one Web site Lamb looked at, 15 were cheerleaders, divas and rock stars. "That really limits girls' imaginations," says Lamb, who surveyed 600 young girls for the book, many of whom admitted to dressing up as something sexy for Halloween in order to get attention.

Of course this not the kind of attention most parents want for their pre-teen daughters. But how do you compromise with a kid who's begging to be a saucy witch when all you want to do is go back to the days when she wanted to be a lion cub or a Teletubby? There's no easy answer for that question. But even if you can't talk her into a Hillary Clinton pantsuit, you might be able to convince her that real pirates wear pants.

Children 'demonised' by campaigns
Sunday October 28, 2007
Press Association, Guardian Unlimited, UK

Police and local authorities are "demonising" children by launching "discriminatory" campaigns highlighting anti-social behaviour in the run-up to Halloween and Bonfire Night, a national youth organisation said.

Forces are contradicting Government policy on promoting positive images of youth by handing out posters suggesting that it is dangerous to sell flour and eggs to children and producing literature threatening youngsters with imprisonment and fines, says the British Youth Council (BYC).

BYC officials say police and local authorities are wasting public money because the vast majority of youngsters would never dream of frightening elderly people on Halloween, never throw fireworks and only use flour and eggs for cooking.

A number of forces have launched campaigns highlighting the threat posed by young people on Halloween.

Cambridgeshire police - in conjunction with several local councils - are giving shopkeepers a poster which portrays a group of five children as ghouls and monsters and warns "young people" that they could be arrested if found "in possession of flour (or) eggs".

Lincolnshire police are warning youngsters that trick or treating could lead to imprisonment.

"It's discrimination against young people and young people seem to be the last group in society where discrimination is seen as legitimate," said Rachael Dumigan, 21, a campaign worker with the BYC.

The BYC said such posters contradicted a Government initiative aimed at improving the lives of children. In July, the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) published a strategy document which warned of the dangers of promoting negative and unfair images of youngster.

A spokeswoman for Cambridgeshire police defended the campaigns, saying officers were responding to "genuine concerns".

"We do not want to be seen as killjoys but we have had genuine concerns expressed by some members of the public about anti-social behaviour on Halloween," she said.