Saturday, October 23, 2010

Halloween Is Coming

Halloween is fast approaching, and I have marked the occasion by using AppleWorks to draw a crude jack-o'-lantern. The mouth didn't work out right, but Appleworks wouldn't let me "undo" it. As a result, I can't tell if he is happy, worried, or nauseous.

Halloween is one of my favorite times of year. When I used to blog at Wandering Army I wrote several posts about Halloween. Maybe one day when I put those posts back online somewhere I can link to them.

Much as I enjoy Halloween in theory, it doesn't have any real impact on my life, other than as an occasion to sit around and think scary thoughts. I have not been invited to a Halloween party since 2001. And I can't say that I'm surprised. I am not the sort of person that one would want at a party, because I am naturally morose.

If I ever were to take part in Halloween festivities, I would have to get a costume, which would be problematic. Judging by the commercially available costumes that I've seen, it would be hard to find something that would be both scary and an expression of my personality—something along the lines of an evil rhynchocephalian with extremely high SAT scores.

(I will note here that many paleontologists and zoologists prefer to use the name Sphenodontia in place of Rhynchocephalia, because at one point Rhynchocephalia accumulated some fossil taxa that didn't actually belong there. I, however, support the use of Rhynchocephalia in the sense that it originally intended, as a classifier for the tuatara ((Sphenodon)), and thus also for the tuatara's legitimate fossil relatives. Also I will admit to being biased in favor of Rhynchocephalia because it sounds cool. Sphenodontia sounds cool as well, but the same basic word is in use elsewhere, in the genus name Sphenodon and the family name Sphenodontidae.)

And finally, if I can provide any real insight here, which is unlikely, it would be an idea as to one reason why Halloween is as hugely popular as it is. Halloween is not like other holidays. On Christmas, Thanksgiving, Memorial Day, Martin Luther King Day, and almost any other holiday, we are constantly being urged to suspend our unthinking enjoyment to contemplate the "real meaning" of the day. And we probably should contemplate the real meaning of those days. But Halloween has no real meaning. It's pure fun.

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