Saturday, October 31, 2009


Earlier this week I happened to tune in to It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown on ABC for the first time in, oh, ages.

I have to say, this ranks up there with the all-time classics. This was produced during an era in television history that, sadly, is gone now -- the era when networks showed these big TV specials during the holiday season. In prime time they used to produce and show all these special, well-produced animated cartoons that would air for family audiences. This Halloween special, first aired in 1966, was a followup to the hugely successful A Charlie Brown Christmas that aired the year before. The two people most associated with the Charlie Brown cartoons were Vince Guaraldi, who composed the jazzy piano-laden scores for the specials, and also Bill Melendez the director, who knew how to set the right tone and allow the personalities of the characters to shine right through. He let the Peanuts gang be the Peanuts gang, just like in the comic strip in the newspapers. It was as if Charles M. Shultz was drawing every one of the pictures used in the animated cartoons himself.

The whole concept of the Halloween special revolved around Lucy's goofy blanket-carrying brother Linus mixing up Halloween with Christmas and thinking the Great Pumpkin would show up rise out of the Pumpkin Patch and hand out presents to all the kids -- just like Santa Claus. But you had interesting sub-plots featuring Snoopy pretending to be a World War I flying ace, and of course Charlie Brown was his usual loser self. When he went out trick or treating all he got back were rocks.
Which brings me to my next rant, which is about the stuff parents hand out to these trick or treaters at Halloween. Usually parents do the right thing and give them chocolate bars and the like, and that's all good. But it seems there is a bit of a movement afoot to put an end to the practice of handing out candy to kids at Halloween. Instead, these teachers, PTA groups, health workers and other no-lives busybody types are worried about "childhood obesity." So they want to promote "healthy" foods and would rather see kids get fruits and vegetables, sunflower seeds, granola bars and other "healthy" foods at Halloween.

What nonsense. What point is there to trick or treating if all you get in return is the same food you eat at home all the time anyway?! Maybe that's the whole point, to end trick or treating. This reminds me a little bit about how people wanted to end the practice of saying "Merry Christmas" because they were afraid it would offend all these minority groups. Honestly, some people seem bent on taking the fun right out of holidays and special occasions, especially ones that are meant to be fun for kids.

Listen, giving kids candy or chocolate bars one night of the year isn't going to kill them or make them obese -- same with giving them big chocolate easter eggs at Easter. The one thing I always hated when I was a kid was that I would go knock on some door and yell "Trick or Treat", and instead of getting an Aero bar or Mars bar or something good, I'd wind up with sunflower seeds or something stupid like that. Darnit, give the kids some good candy, it's what makes life worth it for these miserable children who have to put up with boring homework in school and all the rest of it! It's Halloween, it's one night -- allow these kids to enjoy it.

The other peeve of mine that gets me riled up is that around here where I am, some of these parents try and force the trick or treaters to sing for their chocolate bars -- and that just isn't right, people. Look, this is Halloween. The whole idea is that you have to give them a treat, otherwise these kids will do some evil trick on you. That's why you have to give them candy, because you're compelled to do something for them, not the other way around. Singing for your supper is for Christmas carolers, not Halloweeners. These parents who demand kids to sing or perform on the front porch are just like Linus that way -- they're getting their dates on the calendar confused. It's called Trick or Treat for a reason. If kids show up at the door, don't force them to be Christmas carolers -- or worse, American Idol contestants! Just give them their candy, darnit!!!!

That's it!!!!! Boy, am I ever a grouch lately. Must be the weather.

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