October 22, 2019: The Great Pumpkin and Midnight Radio

Today was weird. Relatively weird, anyway. We’re talking about October here, after all.

I spent most of it at work in Boston, my only connection to the season being the bowl of Halloween candy in the kitchen that I’m pretty sure I ate half of (how are other people so in control around candy?). I know because I had to start hiding the wrappers on my desk out of shame.

I arrived home in time to see my youngest before she went to bed. Some of you might remember from last year’s Halloween Die-ary, but it’s her one-year birthday today. That’s right. She timed her existence with my blogging season, so she’ll have a record of it one day. The other two are penalized for their winter and spring birthdays.

Eventually, we all sat down and watched It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown on live TV, which was airing for like the 53rd year in a row.

I always wonder when they’ll stop airing that special. At some point, a future generation will find dogs pretending to be WWII pilots and rocks in candy bags to be irrelevant to them. I mean, I always talk about how the best way to achieve immortality as an entertainer is by tying yourself to a holiday, but that can only go so far. Some generation will slough you. And with the next generations inundated by content from everywhere (TV, streaming services, YouTube, plus all the decades of content that precede them), it seems like it’ll be my kids’ generation.

Surprisingly, though, my kids sat through the whole show (which, granted, was half an hour). But I think this was more because it was past their bedtime, so they knew if they showed any lack of interest whatsoever, it was off to bed.

Compare that to yesterday, when we watched Garfield’s Halloween Adventure. They were wandering off halfway through the show, despite Garfield being more modern than Charlie Brown in every way. However, we watched it much earlier in the evening, when they didn’t have bedtime hanging over their heads. They had stuff they wanted to do that wasn’t watching a fat orange cat mind-talk about Roy Ogle’s roots. And even though we were watching it on YouTube with the original commercials, almost all of which were about McDonald's Halloween McNugget Buddies and McBoo pails.

Watching both of those specials for myself feels unreal. It’s almost like they’re impossible to watch. Not because they’re bad, but because I’ve seen them so many times, they just slide right off my eyeballs. Like I’m watching every minute of the show, but all at the same time, no matter how it’s playing out on the TV. This must be how God feels watching us. Some lingering nostalgia and minor enjoyment, but mostly he can’t see us anymore.

I did realize for the first time that I only truly love the first 2.5 minutes of It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. The opening scene with Linus and Lucy and the rolling pumpkin is a perfect Halloween short, and then I love the credits with all the Halloween creatures chasing the trick-or-treatsers around, but after that I fall off a bit. Not to say the same thing I say every year, but it would be different if the Great Pumpkin actually showed.

About 10 pm, I went to bed (way early for me) and finished reading Ray Bradbury’s From the Dust Returned (which I hadn’t read in many, many years and was only reading now because I couldn’t find my copy of Something Wicked This Way Comes). I then started my annual reading of The Halloween Tree, a little later than usual. At about 11 pm, I got up, got in the car, and drove through the darkness and rain to Medford, Massachusetts where I did a midnight interview on WBZ Newsradio Boston (you can listen to it not at midnight here).

Two nights ago I was interviewed via Skype by the Can’t Make This Up History Podcast. I like doing podcasts much more than I like doing radio. Podcasts are usually a sincere conversation left to take its own form, but radio interviews are always rushed, and the interviewers are only half listening because they’re also juggling schedules and keeping eyes on the time for commercial breaks and hitting buttons to make sure nothing is screwy tech-wise, and in general are trying to fill hours of air with nonstop sound. It’s not really a conversation, it’s a bit. Still, I’ve got books to sell.

I got out of there about 1 am or so, and on the way home, I stopped at McDonald’s to get something to eat to keep me awake for the rest of the 50-minute drive. I was so out of it, I forgot to order, and just moved with the line until I was at the window. I was mortified enough that I didn’t ask for a special dispensation to order from the window (there were cars behind me waiting for actual orders). I just spun out of the drive-thru and re-entered. The guy at the window was polite enough not to call me out.