Tales from My Crib

The French can't believe that Americans kill all these pumpkins at this time of year just for Halloween, according to a story in the New York Times. It is kind of sick—but so much fun, mon ami!

I love Halloween because it's unadulterated silliness. This year my husband and I had fun making a scarecrow out of a pair of old pants and shirt. We stuffed it with shredded newspapers.  Stuck a head on it that rolled off at the first sign of rain. We hung silly bats and goblins from our trees.  Why not?

I grew up in a city, where trick or treating can be a little mean. Some kids—not me :)—would fill an old sock with chalk and bang on the doors of those who wouldn't give out treats. The really mean kids threw eggs.

When I lived in Puerto Rico, I learned a chant all kids sing when they go trick or treating. It goes like this:
       ¡Trick or treat
       Trick or treat 
       Dame chavos o maní!

Of course, with a Spanish accent it sounds more like "tric o trit, tric o trit"! In the Hispanic world, Halloween is technically called Día de las Brujas, but of course everybody dispenses with that formality.

When my daughter grew old enough, I went trick or treating with her. Later I counted the stash and hid some of it, too. One year in Nevada, she was a lovely Pocahontas. Another year, I made a pumpkin costume for her. Still another year we visited a Halloween haunted house. We carved pumpkins and roasted the seeds. As she grew older, trick or treating wasn't cool anymore. The hip thing to do was to visit Universal Studios here in Orlando for its Halloween fright spooktacular. 

A celebration that I would die to witness is Día de los Muertos in Mexico. The mixture of Catholic and indigenous traditions is awesome, and people go all out. I have a small framed print of dancing calaveras at home.

Of course, you have to watch scary movies, and I go for the classics. I still think the original "Dracula" with Bela Lugosi is eery. English horror actor Peter Cushing is a favorite. More modern-day classic favorites include "The Shining" and "The Others."  The blood and gore movies don't get my attention.

The French will be pleased to learn that this American doesn't kill pumpkins for "aloween" anymore. I do what the French do, which is eat them. Fresh pumpkin is great in beans, pie, soup. I've even made a non-egg eggnog with pumpkin. It's quite good. The Times story mentioned pumpkin risotto. I must get my husband to make that for me!

Have a perfectly frightful Halloween.


Viewers Turned Off 'Latino in America'

The ratings numbers are in, and it's safe to say that CNN's special "Latinos in America" may have bombed. The two-part series broadcast last week drew about 1 million viewers on the first night, according to news reports. The second night averaged about 850,000, a significant drop.

Compared with last year's special documentary "Black in America," the Latino series was met with a big yawn. The first night's ratings were 45 percent below that of "Black in America" on its first night. The second installment fell by 40 percent.

In the crucial 25 to 54 age segment, results were even worse. Viewership among this group plummetted 60 percent or more each night compared with "Black in America."

Not quite sure why this happened, but some people are speculating that it was the Lou Dobb's effect. Dobbs is host of a CNN talk show that has made immigrants a regular whipping post.  Could it also be that the CNN special was too negative or not representative enough of the Latino experience?  I've heard that, too.

Whatever the reason, "Latino in America" appears to have left a lot to be desired on many fronts.


Will Padre Alberto Return to the Catholic Church?

In case anybody missed it, Pope Benedict has decided to attempt rapprochement with the Anglicans, the very same ones who split from the church to form the Church of England during the reign of Henry VIII because ole' Henry wanted to dump his Spanish Queen Catherine of Aragón to marry Anne Boleyn.

Of course, wily Pope Benedict has his own reasons for his generous offer, namely more priests! But this is big news for Catholics, Anglicans and Brits in general. And it's also big news for one Hispanic in South Florida who recently converted to the Episcopalian Church, as Anglicans are known in the United States. I am talking about none other than Padre Alberto Cutié.

Earlier this year, the telegenic ex Catholic priest to the galaxy on Star Island was photographed by a Mexican tabloid fondling the woman who would become his wife on a Miami beach. After a spate of tough publicity for the "bad" priest, Padre Alberto left the church, joined the Episcopal faith and married his amor in that order.  He is reportedly undergoing training to take his Episcopalian vows. 

But, hey, I say why bother?  In a bizarre twist, Padre Alberto may be able to make a Catholic comeback—as a married priest, no less! If Pope Benedict, who is a little bizarro himself, has his way, Episcopalians like Padre Alberto will be welcomed back to the church, few questions asked.

How embarrassing for the American Catholic Church—and the Miami Diocese, in particular—which chased Padre Alberto out the door. I wish the church had been as dogmatic or forthcoming about the abusive priests among its ranks.

Go figure. The mainstream newstainment media, both print and broadcast, has not caught onto this story yet. But let's give them a couple of months. This is going to be fun to watch.