Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

This is the blog of a 25-year-old bookmark. I proudly boast my own Hallmark serial number, 95 HBM 80-1. You’ll probably want to read all about me and my Travelling Companion (the TC) .

Today’s travel notes

In which Wordsworm explores the importance of horror, gore and pumpkins in the American psyche and discovers that there’s a lot to blame the Irish for.

Me and the TC have just got back from California, USA. We drove from San Francisco to LA, through a countryside in the throes of pre-Halloween pumpkinitis. We hit Hollywood just in time to catch the Halloween Horror Night at Universal Studios.

My impressions? To paraphrase Obelix, “These Californians are crazy”. To pacify the TC I’ll add, “But in a good way”.

Travel tip

Don’t turn around. The zombie behind you just may be Irish.

Recommended restaurant

The Hard Rock Café on Universal Citywalk, Hollywood. Good food, bluesy atmosphere, dangling car and wall-hung rock memorabilia. No obvious Irishmen.

The book I’m in

Still Life with Woodpecker, by Tom Robbins. This worm finds the content contrived but passably amusing. From the cover blurb: “[This book] reveals the purpose of the moon… examines the conflict between social activism and romantic individualism… It also deals with the problem of redheads.”

The photos

Me, Peg and the Great Pumpkin. Hey Linus, I found it:

Halloween, horror and pumpkins in California

Halloween, horror and pumpkins in California

It was the week before Halloween when we drove down the Californian coast. Pumpkin patches littered the countryside. What is it with pumpkins, ghosts and the American psyche? This worm has done a bit of research. It’s said that the Irish brought the tradition of Halloween and jack o’lanterns with them to the States. Originally, jack o’lanterns were made from the humble turnip. There’s a confused story of a drunken Irish farmer called Jack who couldn’t get in to heaven or hell, so he had to stagger around purgatory for ever after. To light his way, he hacked a hole in a turnip and put a burning coal into it to form a lantern. For some reason best known to themselves, the other villagers decided that if they made their own turnip lanterns, this would scare away Jack and similar undesirables. Well, they were Irish of course.

When the settlers came to the States and discovered the magnificent pumpkins in their new land, they started using pumpkins instead of turnips to make their jack o’lanterns.

This is the picturesque Webb Ranch Pumpkin Patch near Palo Alto:

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Not all pumpkins are the same, you know. Only the very best will become worthy jack o’lanterns, fit to ward off the Halloween witches and spirits. When you see one you like, hang on to it with all your might:

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Night falls. Mist rises. The Hollywood streets undergo a frightening metamorphosis. Chainsaws thrum. Screams chill the bones. Bones clatter over the screams. It’s Universal Studios Halloween Horror Night:

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Oh, for the comforting glow of a pumpkin now:

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

If you scream, you’re fair game:

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

There’s no escape:

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

They’re everywhere:

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Some poor souls didn’t make it:

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

This guy should have tried a pumpkin as a coach:

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Dude, you’re just tall:

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

The only one who could ever reach me was the son of a preacher man:

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

But day dawns, justice overcomes and pumpkins prevail. Me and a panel from the door of the Santa Barbara Courthouse:

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Actually, pumpkins don’t have it all their own way. Me with a soon-to-be-extinct slice of pumpkin pie:

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Halloween horror and pumpkins in California

Oh-Oh, spaghetti-o. Linus, I fear the TC ate the Great Pumpkin.

That’s all for today dudes.

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