My thoughts


The History of Halloween
October 30, 2007, 6:13 am
Filed under: Intermediate

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Halloween is an old holiday, and we are not totally certain of its origins. Here is what we do know. Halloween is short for “All Hallow’s Eve,” also known as All Saints Day. Halloween originated from the Pagan festival Samhain, also knows as “Witches New Year”, celebrated among the Celts of Great Britain, Ireland and Scotland. Immigrants brought the tradition to North America in the nineteenth century. Other western countries embraced the holiday in the late twentieth century. Halloween is now celebrated in several parts of the Western world, however it is celebrated more in North America than other countries. After the Christians conquered the pagans, they moved the All Saints Day (a religious holiday) to October 31st. However, it is currently actually on November 1st, separate from Halloween (October 31st).

Many European cultural traditions, in particular Celtic cultures, hold that Halloween is one of the times of the year when spirits can make contact with the physical world, and when magic is most potent. It was believed that on October 31, the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead overlapped and the deceased would come back to life and cause havoc such as sickness or damaged crops. The festivals would frequently involve bonfires, where the bones of slaughtered livestock were thrown. Costumes and masks were also worn at the festivals in an attempt to mimic the evil spirits or placate them. This is where trick-or-treating comes from.

Some images associated with Halloween include Jack-O-Lanterns (pumpkins with the face carved out and a candle placed inside) witches and their broomsticks (from the pagans), items associated with witches (such as cauldrons), wizards, magic, ghosts and goblins, black cats (believed to be unlucky as they are associated with witches).

In the New World (North America) during puritan times, there was fear about witches. The puritans were the early settlers, and lived in a strict, religious manner, wearing only dark colors. They were very superstitious, and commonly used witches as a scapegoat for their problems. If a crop failed, a farmer might blame it on a witch. This led to witch hunts, where people would round up innocent women (and sometimes men) and out them on trial for witchcraft. The most famous example of this was the Salem Witch Trials in Salem, Massachusetts. They would be found guilty, and put to death by fire or hanging. Sometimes we currently use the term “witch hunt” to refer to the unjust persecution of people, such as in the early days of AIDS, when not much was known about the disease and innocent people were accused of spreading it.

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What is Halloween?
October 29, 2007, 1:50 am
Filed under: Beginner, Uncategorized

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Halloween is on October 31st every year and is a time for kids to dress up in costume, and to go “trick-or- treating.” In the evening on this day, you can see many children going around to homes in their neighborhood. They knock on the door, and say “trick or treat?” This means that you either give a treat (sweets) or they will pull a trick (do something mean). Sometimes the children say “trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat.” You give them a treat so they do not do something bad.

When I was a child, trick-or-treating changed. In the 1980’s, there was a scare with the drug Tylenol. Someone put poison in the package, and it was sold. This is called the “Tylenol scare,” and it brought people’s attention to poisoning. Around this time, there was an increase in people poisoning sweets for Halloween, some even put razor bladed in them. So parents were very afraid for their children, and they started checking all the candy to make sure it looked safe. They would not allow their children to eat homemade sweets like popcorn balls and cookies.

Nowadays, many businesses, malls, and schools have trick-or-treating, so that the children have a safe place to go, and the parents do not have to worry about their safety or the sweets.

Adults also dress up for Halloween, and some go out the weekend before Halloween. Some bars and clubs have special events for Halloween. Instead of sweets, we get drinks (but we have to pay). If you go out at night, you can see many interesting costumes. This weekend I saw a shark with legs hanging out if its mouth, Thing 1 and Thing 2 from Dr. Seuss, a mascot from a restaurant in the ’80’s, animals, pirates, the Incredibles, Superman, a Christmas tree, Courtney Love (a guy dressed as her), men dressed as women, and people who looked like they had some accidents.

I dressed up as autumn, with leaves in my hair and wrapped all around me. This was taken by friend, who is a photographer.

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Bewitched
October 21, 2007, 7:33 am
Filed under: Beginner

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Halloween is coming soon, and soon you can see people dressed up in costumes. You will see witches, ghosts, monsters, etc. When I think of witches, I think of a the TV show “Bewitched.”

Have you ever seen Bewitched? It was on TV in 1960’s-1970’s. The main character was Samantha, who is a witch. She is married to Darren, who is mortal (a normal guy). He makes her promise him that she will live like a mortal, without using witchcraft and spells in their lives, but sometime she uses her magic to help Darrin and herself. Sam’s mother, Endora does not accept her mortal son-in-law, hates him and hardly can speak his name correctly. Their snoopy next-door neighbor Gladys Kravitz suspects of Samantha, but can never prove the weird situations she sees to her husband Abner Kravitz.

Samantha was an uncommon name in the United States until Bewitched came along. My name is Samantha, and people always asked if I was named after the TV Show, but I actually was not. These days, the name is more common, and there have been other TV Shows such as “Sex & The City” and “Who’s the Boss?” with characters named Samantha.



Bionic Woman
October 4, 2007, 6:22 am
Filed under: Intermediate

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The Fall TV Season started this week, and one of the new shows is “Bionic Woman,” which is a remake of the original TV show from the ’70’s. The new show basically uses the same plot, but it has been modernized. Jaime Sommers has a busy life, raising her teen sister and working. Her boyfriend has just proposed to her, and then she is in a horrible car accident. Her boyfriend Will is not just a doctor, but involved in a secret military project. He arranges for her to be involved in the project, where the limbs that she lost were replaced, as was her right eye. As a result of her bionic parts, she is super strong and athletic.

When I was in college, I worked in a restaurant. I was helping the waitress carry some food out to a table, and she stopped and said “Oh, my God, you’re Jaime Sommers!” She stood there gawking and holding the food.

Lindsay Wagner, who played the original Bionic Woman replied sweetly, “Well Jaime Sommers would like her food.”

Later on, I saw Lindsay Wagner in the hallway, and she and I exchanged a glance, as if to say “that girls was silly, wasn’t she?”

The new Bionic Woman is not targeted towards people who watched the original, but the younger generation who does not know it at all. To be honest, I barely remember the original.