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October 31, 2003

by Bill Hogan



I'm not a real big fan of Halloween. A hundred little kids ringing the door bell non-stop wearing store-bought SpongeBob Squarepants costumes ticked off that they only get one tootsie roll pop apiece. All the while readying myself to pounce on the first smart-aleck who tries to smash a pumpkin in my driveway or T.P. the trees in my yard.

And, except for the crazy lady up the block handing out homemade cookies, there's really nothing terrifying about the occasion anymore. There are so many other things to be afraid of, spooked by and horrified from to get rattled by a jack-o-lantern or startled by a skeleton hanging in a darkened hallway.


For instance, the look on Don Zimmer's face when he bull-rushed Pedro Martinez during the melee in the American League Championship Series was downright frightening. He eerily resembles Uncle Fester to begin with. More horrifying was when Pedro decided his best recourse was to box the old man's ears and hurl the inveterate Yankee bench coach to the ground.

It borders on ghoulish that there are scores of baseball fans in Chicago and Boston who actually believe that some longstanding curse is the only reason their Cubs and Red Sox were again denied a trip to the World Series. I wonder what is the life expectancy of a black cat wondering the streets around Wrigley Field or Fenway Park?

No head football coach in the NFL should weep so uncontrollably as often as Dick Vermeil does. In fact, no man should cry that much. Frankly, it gives me the creeps. Like the man-kisses Marlins catcher Pudge Rodriguez doled out to his teammates after each series win.

It's terrifying to watch 67-year-old John Madden lately. He should consider doing all of his commentary behind the camera. He looks like he's wearing a rubber John Madden mask that was left out in the sun too long. And when he sweats, it appears as if his face is melting right before our eyes.

The only thing more horrifying than sitting through ESPN's "original drama" Playmakers is the fact that the network actually had the gall – or should I say ghoul – to broadcast a Playmakers marathon. And it's equally horrific to think that somewhere, somebody TiVo'd all eight episodes.

The world in general is a scary place. Made scarier by the likes of Brad Pitt and Jennifer Anniston who are now assembling a crack team of Hollywood celebrities for a mission to bring peace to the Middle East. Though they have no diplomatic experience, it seems one of them played a diplomat on TV; others stayed at a Holiday Inn Express once.

That the Florida Marlins organization would allow an aging Keith Partridge to sing God Bless America during Game 3 is a spine-chilling reminder that the networks have taken over professional sports. If not for David Cassidy's guest appearance on the upcoming series premier of Malcolm in the Middle, FOX may have chosen Ricky Martin instead.

Listening to the disclaimer at the end of a pharmaceutical commercial can be a frightening experience. When a medication's possible side effects are worse than the symptoms you're trying to relieve, it can be a nightmare. I'd rather live with occasional acid reflux than suffer through persistent headache, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

The E! Television Network picked up The Anna Nichole Show for a second season – that's spooky. More frightening is that Anna bobble head dolls are available at E! Online. (Funny, I wouldn't have thought it'd be Anna's head that bobbled.)

It gives me shivers when I read about nut-jobs putting razor blades in apples. Not unlike the feeling I got the first time I saw Bill Parcells sporting a new hairdo. Old, fat and blonde is a horrifying combination.

It's scary to think that athletes continue to poison their bodies with steroids – the latest is a new designer drug called THG – ignoring all the warnings of harmful and deadly side effects. These athletes should be petrified at the very idea of Erectile Dysfunction and shrinking testicles.

It's no longer ghosts and goblins that make Halloween scary. It's homemade cookies, unwrapped caramel apples and packages of Smarties that look like they may have been tampered with. By the time I eliminate every treat that poses a potential risk, the poor kids are left with the neighbor's mini Twix bar and a couple of hard candies they picked up at Grandma's house.


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