Monday, November 01, 2004

Ryan's first American Halloween

This weekend marked my first Halloween in America — incidentally tomorrow is the first anniversary of my incarceration/freedom/sentence/job/arrival in America (delete as applicable, note applicability changes frequently).

Fortunately, I missed the little kiddies dressing up and knocking on my door asking for stuff part of Halloween, as I was at a John Kerry rally on Thursday evening. The rally was quite an interesting experience. They could have done without their generator breaking down and plunging the 30,000-50,000 strong crowd into an hour long silence before we got to the main event. The main event of the evening was, obviously, Bruce Springsteen playing a couple of songs and introducing The Next President of United States of America. At this point confetti rained down upon the stage and some people in the audience started to leave, well a few people also left during the unplanned intermission. Kerry didn't have anything particularly interesting to say, or at least didn't have anything much to say that I haven't heard a few times before. He, or his scriptwriters, tried to illustrate a few of his points by using local examples, job losses in Ohio and that sort of thing, which gave it a slightly more personal feel. But most of the time it was like watching a repeat of the Kerry half of the debates. Springsteen on the other hand was quite an eloquent speaker, but maybe that was just because he came after the very old sounding John Glenn (but hell he's 80 and has been to space so we can probably forgive him for sounding a little strained and frail). In case you were wondering I didn't have to sign a loyalty oath, I just wasn't allowed to bring any banners or signs in with me, not that I wanted to.

Most of my entertainment for the evening came from a small troupe of banner waving Bush supporters, who congregated just outside the rally enclosure, and their interactions with the Kerry supporters. I was particularly amused by the guy who was dressed up like a character from Aladdin, big red turban and princely robes, holding a sign saying "Make me safer. Vote for Kerry". Now I guess he was trying to be a terrorist, and suggesting that terrorists would be safer under Kerry, but instead he looked like a pantomime character (I used to go to the pantomime every year when I was growing up, my mother still goes every year. For those of you haven't had the, dubious, pleasure, you get men dressed up as old women, women dressed as young men, two men dressed as a donkey or cow, and lots of singing, dancing and bad jokes. Oh and he's behind you.), so I was trying to work out why pantomime characters/actors would be endangered under Bush. It really was quite a ridiculous costume to wear if you were trying to make a serious political statement.

Since Thursday night, every night has been taken up with some amount of Halloween partying and staying up late, although the closest I got to fancy dress was putting on a Hawaiian shirt. The highlights of the parties included: the large number of women who came as angels, or leather clad cops; repeatedly talking about gay marriage (For the record I just don't understand it, and can't conceive of how two guys getting married could possibly effect me or my marriage, if I was married. For that matter I can't understand why they'd want to get married, but telling them they can't seems entirely unfair. But surely there are other issues that people should be paying attention to and not wasting so much time with this smokescreen?); being told that the reason for September 11th, the attack not the date, was McDonalds and rap music (I have no witty comment to make, just "Huh?"); listening to a former resident of communist East Germany arguing with a former marine about how much influence Reagan had on the fall of communism in the Eastern-block (none and all, were the initial positions); listening to the HooDoo Soul Band, they were very very good and 12 hours later my ears are still ringing; being taken for one half of a gay marriage; pretending to be an Alabaman pastor pretending to be an Englishman (long story, the guy I was talking to was both drunk and annoying so I decided to start lying to him, okay not that long a story); not getting home before three o'clock all weekend and just generally enjoying myself.


Anonymous said...

Umm, Thursday? What's the significance of Thursday? Hallowe'en was Sunday.

Anonymous said...

being taken for one half of a gay marriage; Insert schoolboy sniggers here.

Ryan said...

Umm, Thursday? What's the significance of Thursday? Hallowe'en was Sunday.I too naively expected the trick or treating to take place on the 31st. Instead the 'official' trick or treating takes place on the last day in October which isn't a Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Hence Thursday, this year. This is what people have told me anyhow.

Incidentally the OED would me have me write Hallow-e'en, which I didn't know but kind of makes sense.

Georgiana said...

They did something similar with the trick or treating in some neighbourhoods in Florida. I think they went out Saturday night. Part of my day job is moderating a discussion board with 2 million hits a month. The best part of the job is that I get a pretty good idea how widespread stupid trends are. So far this stupid trend seems fairly limited judging by the reactions of everyone else who went out on Sunday.

Ryan are you doing NaNoWriMo? One of the reasons I started reading your blog was because you said you would like to write a screenplay one day. I do realize there is a vast difference between scripts and novels but still it seems like half the world is doing NaNoWriMo this year so I thought I'd ask.

Ryan said...

I didn't realise this was just something they did in certain parts of the country. I'd just assumed it was a nationwide thing, having only ever been here I don't have much of a point of reference.

I am really torn over NaNoWriMo. I haven't started yet but when I heard about it (that nice Mr Gaiman, of course) I really wanted to try. I think it would be quite fun. However, I have all the usual excuses (I'd say reasons, but why lie): busy time at work; blah; blah; blah. I think I probably should give it a whirl, but I am a notorious (to my mother, at least) procrastinator.

Umm... I think I should try. But will I?

Anonymous said...

You'll end up with a choice between writing or going to the bar for a few beers, and the beer will win.

Georgiana said...

You should do it. There is no reason you can't go to the bar and have some beer and then write. First drafts can be so horrible you live in fear of someone finding them and that just means you'll really be able to tell the difference between the first and second drafts.

Last year I started my November novel on a laptop my boss gave me. The power died halfway through the month and I hadn't backed it up anywhere because I can be quite stupid. Rather than try and recreate what I had or even just go on from what I had I started a brand new novel and then stalled around.

I think I ended up writing the last 18 thousand words in two days. I don't know, it's all a blur. But I did it and I was very happy that I did. I like about half of what I wrote and I plan to go back to my rewrite in December.

But then I work well under pressure. I wrote the last thirty pages of my most recent screenplay in a few days while recovering from a spinal tap. I don't suggest that but it worked for me.

And to get back to Halloween for a second, I'm sorry if I wasn't clear. I never heard of anyone celebrating on a day other than the actual day until this year. I've always been pleased that Independence Day and Halloween have managed to escape the fate of the rest of our holidays and haven't been rescheduled to a more convienient time.

I'm dismayed to hear that in parts of South Carolina, Ohio and Florida people are trick or treating on a different day. My buddy Kevin says he thinks the kids in his neighbourhood went on Saturday night so there wouldn't be as many drunk partiers on the road when the kids were out but isn't Saturday night a traditional drunk driving night?

Ryan said...

I sought of followed your advice, Georgiana. But instead of writing when I got back from the bar, I wrote in the bar. It worked pretty well for the first hour or so, but then people kept coming up and talking to me. Which is not really a surprise as social interaction is one of the main reasons (along with beer) that I go down to the bar. Last night everything I wrote was handwritten in my increasingly tatty notebook, so there'll have to be a transcribing session at some point. I think if I'm going to get close to the mystical 50,000 word limit, I'll have to have a few very productive weekends this month.

If at all possible I'm going to avoid using spinal taps to break through any writer's block type issues I might have. Both from the pain (not that I've ever had one) and financial aspects (as I'm pretty sure my health insurance doesn't cover them for creative purposes).

I can maybe understand how you'd want to reschedule trick or treating night if it fell on a Friday or Saturday, due to the increased number of drunken revellers/drivers. But I'd always assumed Sunday was a pretty safe night. Having said that, most of the trick or treating is finished by 7:30 or 8 o'clock (so I'm told), and you have to be a pretty committed reveller to be drunk by then. But hell, I live in a state where they've legalised concealed carrying of guns and banned gay marriage (and all rights associated with any union, same sex or cross sex, that isn't marriage), so very little they do here surprises me.

Anonymous said...

If at all possible I'm going to avoid using spinal taps to break through any writer's block type issues I might have.

It could be worse - you could try and use Spinal Tap.

(and all rights associated with any union, same sex or cross sex, that isn't marriage)Presumably that means that Ohio isn't allowed to treat anyone other than a man married to a woman as "married" for the purposes of tax returns, inheritance etc. Does it also mean that, say, if you signed a contract giving your gay lover rights as your next of kin in case you were sick in hospital, or died or something, an Ohio court would rip that up if presented with a challenge by your parents?

Ryan said...

The text of the amendment is:

Section 11. Only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this state and its political subdivisions. This state and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance or effect of marriage.As far as I understand it, the trouble is that the definition of "legal status" is fairly open to debate. So this amendment (I originally wrote proposal, but it isn't that anymore) can be used to do all sort of things that it wasn't primarily intended for. A quick Google search turns up this article, which identifies some of the problems with Issue 1. Including, "Issue 1 could prevent them from being able to give each other legal control over their health care".