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Monday, November 01, 2004
It is not a good time of year for Chrysophobics. We can sympathise with the writer of Give up the ghosts, who laments the swift descent of British Halloween into a horrible, cheap photocopy of America's $3 billion festival of orange tat. Having opened the door to a depressing succession of small children, clad in lurid, cheap Woolworths costumes, lurid facepaint and nasty Scream masks, and swiftly given in to their gratitude-free demands for sweets (adding to the sugar already coursing through their veins), we would happily give the whole thing back to the US. 'Two lollipops' is interpreted as a sticky handful. Parents lurk guiltily on the pavement.

Some more history, and some more complaints, this time from the ExWitch Ministeries. That's the problem with Halloween; if you hate it, you're either a curmudgeon or a fanatic. Halloween is truly celebration of evil, but not in the religious sense. In Britain, the commercialisation of Halloween got a huge boost when ET was released in 1982. Back then, the only delight was pumpkin carving, a rare and exotic craft (movie trivia: the 'enhanced' version of the film digitally altered guns to walkie-talkies and changed 'the word "terrorist" to "hippie" in describing Michael's Halloween costume').

The film's trick or treat scenes showed American children having a lot more fun than their British counterparts. A cultural shift was underway, first with the importation of some of the more lurid Halloween urban legends. Of these, the razor blade in the apple was the favoured horror story, accepted as truth by almost every adult and used as a stern warning against the dangers of trick or treating. Today, packaged sweets are more tamper-proof, acrylic costumes and latex masks are cheap to make (with a correspondingly high profit margin) and Halloween neatly fills the long retail gap between Easter and Christmas. As a result, the British Halloween industry has kicked in with a vengeance, eager to imitate its American counterpart.

Vaguely related, Supernatural and Fantastic Imagery of the Middle Ages, via exclamation mark / Simon's Advert and Brochure archive / design culture stuff at mooch / a huge collection of photo and image albums, including 1950s cars and weird trucks in Japan.

The National Geographic takes on the Creationists / retrovertising reminded us of the art of Arthur Radebaugh, futurist artist (see his flying bus) and subject of a new exhibition on yesterday's world of tomorrow. See Where are the cars of the future we were promised?

Celebrity Food dysfunctions, such as 'Elvis' fave Fool's Gold sandwiches. These apparently consisted of whole baguettes stuffed one foot high with bacon, peanut butter and strawberry jam. Each contained 42,000 calories, enough to sustain a normal man for a fortnight. You can find a squirrel recipe here (it doesn't mention whether you should use common or garden grey or, presumably the gourmet's choice, red).

A fine appreciation of John Peel from Slate, with mp3 links / a history (in French) of plastic-bodied cars / key dates in BBCi history / Berlin 1945-1985.