Monthly Archives: November 2013

The War on Halloween

Time humor columnist Joel Stein interviewed me about ‘The War on Halloween’ for his column this week in Time magazine.  The result is charming and hilarious. You can pick up a copy (Nov. 4th with Prince Charles on the cover) or keep on reading:

Dizzyland

Dizzyland
‘Dizzyland’ is what my brother and sister called it, perhaps believing that it was named for the effect produced by the tea-cups ride.  My child-self secretly believed that Disneyland was the first level of heaven; I had recurrent dreams that one could break through into other levels of heaven if one found a way past certain boundaries into hidden entries—my dreams had me threading through low-cut mazes of topiary into a rabbit hole, or slipping past a heavy red-velvet curtain and through a mysterious crystal-knobbed doorway, popping out into ethereal realms.  But always, Disneyland was the entry point.  [...]

Hellfire and Carnation

Hellfire and Carnation
“The kids want to know what church we go to,” I complained to my parents.  We had just moved from Los Angeles, where the angels are, as the name implies, well and truly lost, to a church laden suburb of Rochester, New York called Chili, which the natives pronounced with two long i’s apparently unaware of its namesake in South America.  Frogs were frogs with a long o and dogs were dogs with an equally long o.  Nonetheless, I had started high school and was at the mercy of these provincial little fools.  That the second [...]

Jungles of the Amazon

Jungles of the Amazon
Ignoring the fact that her eldest daughter was swinging through the trees hollering like Tarzan and flying from rooftop to rooftop at the school pretending to be Peter Pan, my mother focused her homophobic anxieties on my brother. Girls could be tomboys—the world would crush that uppityness out of them soon enough—but the slightest sign of softness in a boy child spooked mothers in the 1950’s worse than the sudden appearance of a cougar would panic cattle.

“When do I have to stop kissing him?” Mother sadly asked a friend of hers who had four sons.

“When [...]

Tortilla Rhymes with Chinchilla

Tortilla Rhymes with Chinchilla
One might expect that a school in a town called Chili, pronounced with two long ‘i’s’, chai-lie, the local schools might be a little substandard.  I had come from a Junior High in Manhattan Beach where the local drug dealer parked his car across from the playground and did brisk business with students throughout the day, a school where I was routinely beaten up for my lunch money by kids looking to procure the pusher’s wares until I started bringing a sack lunch every day and hiding a couple of quarters for ice cream in [...]