Posts Tagged ‘Halloween’

They Live, We Sleep

October 30, 2013




I rewatched the 1988 John Carpenter classic “They Live” for what must be the Nth time last night, and I’m amazed at how well it has retained its relevance. The social satire works as well against the backdrop of the voodoo economics of the Reagan-Bush years as it would in the midst of the Occupy Wall Street protests. This is partly because the issues remain the same (increasing income inequality, an economy cratered by the untouchable & uncaring rich, relentless mass-media manipulation) and partly because, well, John Carpenter just plain makes damned good movies.


The script for “They Live” was based on “Eight O’Clock in the Morning”, a short story written by Ray Nelson almost a half century ago. Ray had a very interesting and multi-faceted career, not only as a writer and cartoonist, but as a smuggler of pornography: according to his IMDB bio, in the 1950s he helped Michael Moorcock sneak the works of Henry Miller out of France.

Ray has another claim to cultural fame as well: he has the singular distinction of having been the inventor of the propeller beanie in 1947. While still in high school, he and some friends were goofing around at a science fiction convention and put some together from plastic scraps. The rest is history. He once remarked, “Centuries after all my writings have been forgotten, in some far corner of the galaxy, a Beany-Copter will still be spinning.”

I’m going to install a propeller on my bike helmet and then go read some dirty books in Ray Nelson’s honor, and I hope you’ll all do something along the same lines.

Seventy-five years ago, on Oct. 30, 1938, mere hours before Halloween began, millions of Americans got the fright of a lifetime: Orson Welles, 23 at the time, performed a radio dramatization of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds…without reveling that it was a play. The morning after press conference was a classic.

Radiolab contrasts the aftermath of the original broadcast in 1938 with the repeat performance in Quito, Ecuador in 1949. Let’s just say there was a strong public reaction. And mayhem.

Christianity may have appropriated the honoring of the dead into the Christian calendar with All Saints (All Hallows) on November 1st, followed by All Souls on November 2nd, but Samhain is what got this party started.

Okay, the link-bait got me, but in a good way: “What is a walipini?”. Turns out it’s a low-tech in-ground greenhouse that uses the thermal mass of the soil to keep it growing things all year round. There’s more on them here.

We humans are “Narrative Machines“, constantly rewriting the stories of our lives. It’s how we make sense of things, pinning the chaos down to a single perspective.

I agree, this church does rather resemble a penis when seen from the air. And it’s not even thinking about butt-sex with Westboro!