Friday, October 29, 2004


Or, pass the ‘creepy critters’ please

It’s the annual trick-or-treat season again, time for fiendish fireworks’ displays and foolish excuses for grown-ups to dress up and party!

Okay, let’s check off the list.

1. You’ve moved to Victoria, B.C. (Canada’s largest, left-coast "witch town" – a haven for more than 1,000 folks who admitted in the latest census that they truly were “out of the broom closet”).

2. You’ve joined a high-profile public witch club called the “13th House Mystery School” (a place to explore the creative ‘black arts’ naturally).

3. You’ve volunteered with “Wicca Weight Watchers Club” (to learn more about preparing personalized eating plans for the cherub-challenged).

4. You’ve advocated for a "healthy and supportive witchiness workplace environment", spearheaded an equal-opportunity “open witchiness” government hiring policy, (and launched a public awareness campaign to address the growing needs of temporarily-displaced Ouija board readers, and alternative-lifestyle-for-black-cat-swingers’ in the community).

5. You’ve signed up for “911 Ghostly Walking Tours” (so, if there’s something strange in your neighborhood, you know who to call); you've rented "Psycho" on DVD (for helpful bathroom renovation hints) and you've checked out that 1963 thriller, "The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living And Became Mixed-Up Zombies" (to see how to make low-budget, scary movies to impress your discombulated neighbor and his tabby cat named "Don Juanita").

6. You’ve bought a pointy hat, candles, incense, and crystals (from the “Witch Kitsch Shop”) and read, "Living Wicca..." (to fast-track your way to becoming your own High Priest or Priestess).

7. You’ve borrowed a long, crooked, plastic nose (from the President of the “Wicked Wench Business Leads Club”) and a honking big broomstick (from the cleaning lady).

8. You’ve acquired a dark habit (well actually, it’s something that an unidentified, “frequent flying” nun left behind at a previous Halloween party).

9. You’ve tried on a pair of shiny, black patent-leather hob-nailed boots (from a rather strange caddy at the golf and country club to which you belong) and you've invited your inlaws over for a taste of the "Ghosts Festival" (it's definitely pay-back time isn't it)!

10. And, “The Great Pumpkin” has agreed to pay a visit to your neck-of-the-woods, (provided you toss the freaky-looking scarecrow on the front lawn).

But hold on now -- there’s something missing. After all, what would Halloween be without a little “scream cuisine”?

After checking out the 1,940 websites devoted to goblin gourmet and other ghoulish goodies, there are oodles of things to whet the whistle and appetite of the hobgoblins and ghosts in your neighborhood.

Main Course:

  • Cervelle de Canut (Silkweaver’s Brain – an herbed cheese from Lyon, France)
  • Cheesy Apple Fangs
  • Cheese & Olive Fingers
  • Crispy Bat’s Wings with Mushy Green Mash
  • Goosebump Gravy
  • Ghoulish Gruel
  • Halloween Vegetarian Chili
  • Spider Web Party Dip
  • The Devil’s Salsa & Tortilla Spikes


  • Black Widow Fizz
  • Blue Witches’ Brew (...ha-ha)
  • Cranberry Blood-Curdling Brew
  • Pina Ghoulada


  • Banana Ghouls
  • Black Cat Cupcakes
  • Ghoulish Petites Fours (courtesy of Martha Stewart)
  • Ghoulish Gooey Bars
  • Langues de chat (Cat’s Tongues – a French Sugar Cookie)
  • Orange Ooze Cupcakes
  • Spooky Spider Cake

However, should a wisecracking whippet like George Bush Sr. kick up a fuss at your Halloween Feast Table by stamping his feet and shouting, “I’m President of the United States, and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli!” …fear not.

Gently remind the offending soul about Hannibal Lecter’s fondness for food and unpalatable friends, “I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti”, (from the 1991 film, The Silence of the Lambs).

Now the real question is … who knows what delicious delights wait to be devoured and by whom at your Halloween party!


For more information about the metaphysical mysteries of life, please consult the following books: The Spiral Dance (by San-Franciso-based with and best-selling author Starhawk), Drawing Down the Moon (by Margot Adler), Spellcraft (by Victoria's best-known witch, Robin Skelton), Drying the Bones (by Victoria witch, Madeline Sonik), and non-fiction, shadow-craft works like Living Wicca - A Further Guide for the Soliatary Practitioner (by Scott Cunningham) and The Witches Book of Days (written by three Victoria witches Jean Kozocari, Yvonne Owens, and Jessica North-Skywalker).

For a historical review of Canadian paganism and community networking, readers are invited to languish over the pages of "Hecate's Loom" a magazine produced for more than a decade (in the heart of witch-central -- Victoria, BC).

According to one Victoria-based journalist (and part-time witch), John Threlfall, the best place for those wishing to "wear their pentagram openly without anyone batting an eye" is Beacon Hill Park. And as John pointed out in a recent Halloween article in Monday Magazine, Kevin Marron in his 1989 work, Witches, Pagans & Magic in the New Age, noted that, "It seems a strange contradiction that this quiet cosy community also has the reputation of being a centre for witchraft". (Perhaps it has something to do with the energy of the land, the water, or Victoria's position smack dab on the San Andreas earthquake-prone fault line. Others suggest a more tangible explanation..."something very strange about the off-the-wall folk who call this place home.")

Tourists to Victoria, B.C. (Canada) will be glad to know that this city, with it's rich past as a former colonial outpost of the British Empire, is also one of the few places in the country where witches can be legally married (and buried).

Just because Salem, Massachusetts can claim to be the 'world capital of witchcraft' doesn't mean to say that Victoria can't cut it as a "happening Halloween place". After all, it's got the "Ghosts of Victoria Festival" sure to attract lots of broomstick boomers and enhance the already "hot", haunted-house real-estate market.

And for those wishing to learn more about scrumptious "scream cuisine" delights, check out:

Monday, October 25, 2004


Or, wabbit hunting is for wimps

by Theolonius McTavish, one whose abiding interests include obscure interpretations of "The Good Ship Lollipop", biodegradable hexagons, "Sleep Country" mattresses, and the origin of the fox trot

Some say that the world is being overrun by far too many rabbits -- Oswald the Rabbit, Roger the Rabbit, Bugs Bunny not to mention all manner of wretched little Easter Bunnies. If that’s so, then “wabbit hunting” is sure to become a growth opportunity for outfitters, guides, and taxidermists or for those catering to the Saturday morning cartoon-rerun crowd.

On the other hand, some suggest that it requires neither courage nor skill to outwit a bouncy, four-legged, floppy-eared thing with a twitchy pink nose. They hold the popular view that the only reason these critters exist is to keep wimpy warriors safe if not sound and give the wicked wenches something to cook besides tasteless toads.

Those with the “right stuff” know that the "real action" in life comes from slaying dragons, mashing monsters or trouncing trolls. For a change of pace, there’s always the chance of saving the odd damsel-in-distress or two, just to keep a fellow feeling needed on his day off.

As fate would have it however, "real men" have done such a bang up job of eradicating the big brutes over the past few centuries, there's precious little to tick off on their “to do” lists. No more tales to impress long-lost lovers. No more battering rams to strike fear into the hearts of those wanting to grab a guy's favorite parking spot.

Diversions such as a daring game of snakes and ladders, extreme-tiddlywinks and no-holds-barred croquet simply won't cut it any longer. And, with no dragons, monsters or trolls around to hunt, clearly something had to be done before the fickle finger of fate intervened.

The possibility that the woosies, or heaven forbid the thought that the wenches might take over and -- put an end to hunting, close the pleasure palaces, not to mention declare peace in the Garden of Eden -- obviously did not sit too well with the macho-merengue types. This scenario was not an option! So, there wasn't a moment to lose if a hunky dory outcome was to be engineered!

That’s why “The Academy of Arcane Stuff & Tricky Things” stepped in to offer a silver-tongued solution to this perplexing problem. Needless to say, after much consolation, consultation, and a few stiff drinks...the ivory-tower icons got together with several baron-of-beef business buddies and a couple of pleased-as-punch politicians who all agreed on one thing -- the need for a plan.

This was a tall order however since the gurus had only ever prepared "pomp and circumstance" pieces of piffle. Would they be able to produce anything but the usual five-inch-thick, two-volume, color-coordinated, bound-set of embossed tomes typically found languishing on bookshelves propping up the dust bunnies? This time, a miracle was in order. Nothing less than a "Master-Plan" with a "pithy purpose, pliable priorities, and oodles of prizes" would do thank you.

So, after forty days of peripatetic pondering in the seclusion of the "Hundred Acre Wood", (including 960 hours of going around in little circles, and 39 nights of counting sheep), they came up with a groundbreaking, politically-incorrect 'man-power' strategy (affectionately known as Plan-B).

Although the stupendous plan was woefully short on details, at least the election of an awe-inspiring 'Grand Pooh-Bah of Everything Important in the Universe' was hailed as a neat way to boost the flagging morale of the lads. On second thought, it might also have had something to do with giving the bureaucrats plenty of time to sharpen their pencils, or just an excuse to haggle over the best bang-for-the-buck on how to save the world from the scourge of wimps and woosies.

If the devil is in the details, then they surely must have been lost forever in the small print of all this blessed bumpf. And for those who missed out on the Grand Thoughts About Nothing Summit of Great Minds, there's still time to sign up for courses like "Where to Find the Best Haycorns", "Useful Pots to Keep Things In", and “Knowledge Management for Bears of Very Little Brain”.

After all, who in their right mind could refuse a misspelled engraved invitation to a seminar on "Hunny-Making Tips", a CD sampler of Popular Hip-Hop Hums not to mention a "smackeral of something" around 11 o'clock, plus a client feedback form covered with those ubiquitous smiley faces, and an autographed personal copy of Plan-B?

No doubt prozac-popping Poohs, materialistically-challenged Rabbits, anxiety-disordered Piglets, donky-depressive Eeyores, hyper-active Tiggers, brilliant but dyslexic Owls, single-parenting Kangas with at-risk Roos and detached-personality Christopher Robins will find these amusing activities just a tad taxing on their simple cerebellums.

By the way, play-with-your-food fanatics, petting zoo herbivores, and wee wabbit workers should definitely consider a career change. According to Plan B, "Our mighty man-power strategy guarantees a marvellous, bright, new future for MANkind, especially those who pursue a challenging eco-adventure career in the emerging field of heffalump and woozle hunting." Oh won’t that be fun tiddley pom! Another gold star, tiddley pom. Ho hum tiddley pom.

Lesson from Hundred Acre Wood: If one whistles long enough while digging a Deep Pit to trap a heffalump or one wanders aimlessly about in the wilderness with a pot of honey to catch a woozle, one's definition of the elusive critters will vary with the weather, one's appetite, and the volatility of the Animal Kingdom Happiness Index (AKHI).


Mindful munchkinds may also be interested pursuing further studies of Pooh and Friends such as "The Pooh Perplex", and "Post-Modern Pooh", not to mention the ever-popular philosophical mind-benders, the Tao of Pooh and the Te of Piglet.

For the really keen folk (with very wonky funnybones) who dearly need to know everything about nothing, do check out "Pathology in the Hundred Acre Wood: a neurodevelopmental perspective on A.A. Milne" .

And for those with a transcendental appreciation of life, take a peek at Jason Arbaugh-Twitty's article, "Pooh of Walden Pond"

Wednesday, October 13, 2004


Or, can you tell me where I can find “Babar”, “Dumbo” or “Topsy”?

by Theolonius McTavish (an eccentric collector of odd facts and things that go bumpty bump bump bump in broad daylight).

According to Google, 826,000 websites are devoted to the topic of elephants*.

Just imagine what would life be like if there were no behemoths rambling about to give someone a bad-hair day?

Actually these boisterous bruisers have been around for millennia; so long in fact that 4,000 years ago, people in the Indus Valley decided it was about time to tame them.

Besides hauling around oodles of stuff, including monarchs and their entourages, the plump pachyderms became the weapon of choice for ancient warriors with lots of time on their hands. After all, no one moves quickly in a military campaign using "Babar", "Dumbo" or "Topsy"; everyone that is except Hannibal, who in 218 BC took a joy ride with 37 elephants over the Alps to win the Second Punic War.

Not to be outdone by the continental hordes, nor content to be just 'King of the Castle', the British boasted of their intention to rule the whole wide world before the engineers laid claim to that feat first. To that end, they thought a few elephants might do the trick. So, the Royal Navy got busy and named two 18th century storage vessels and a gun-ship, “HMS Elephant”, (in spite of the fact that gun-powder had rendered the elephant obsolete as a high-performance fighting machine).

Wars involving blessedly big beasts and man-made monsters would soon fall by the wayside, in favor of the more popular "rat race", (a leisure activity pursued by ripsnorting rodents and robber-baron wannabes). Clearly, the elephant would need a new reason for being if it was going to survive the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

Since pet rocks, silly putty and slinkies had not yet been invented, the rich and famous still needed something to amuse themselves. Elephants looked like a good idea at the time. So, with a new lease on life, these hefty hairless creatures became objects of affection and "must-have" items of conspicuous consumption for several dudes of distinction. French Emperor Charlemagne acquired a hungry household pet named “Abul-Abbas”, while Pope Leo X, (with few friends around to chew the fat and down a pint of grog), found solace through a spiritual connection to his non-ruminating hoofed animal companion, “Hanno”.

With far too many elephants and sacred cows hanging around and taking up space on the planet, not to mention scads of young men with blunderbusses, and numerous old bucks bored out of their trees romping around the back forty, a new trophy sport emerged to keep these testy titans occupied. While the lads were enthusiastically engaged in "offing" the floundering floppy-eared things plodding about the plains of Africa -- the taxidermists enjoyed a booming business upon their return. Apparently, the only ones who complained bitterly about the trophy hunt were those left behind -- an odd assortment of neglected nitpicking nags, abandoned paramours, and inconsolable damsels-in-distress.

Seeing the “Old World” get all the credit for coming up with ways to tame or trounce elephants, the “New World” cowboys were a tad ticked off. The pursuit of happiness pioneers, (with precious little to do in the "home of the brave"), decided it was high time to kick butt for a change. So, they tossed the yoke of yucky British tea, put an end to the tyranny of tasteless crumpets, and created new job opportunities for bronco-busters (in a country with vanishing buffalo, no elephants, and a wide array of flea-bitten mules). A glorious and bright future lay ahead for those who dared to ride bulls bareback, or those willing to take up less stressful occupations such as tenderfooted cowpokes, barnyard groomers, and burger flippers.

It seems however that the American patriots really missed not having any slow-moving big bad beasts to ride or moth-eaten mammoths in the rec-room to show off to inquisitive neighbors. In fact, so adoring were they of the absent gargantuan, grumpy, four-footed mammal that they decided to give it a prominent political position in their country, as the symbol of the US Republican Party.

Speaking of elephants**, Abraham Lincoln certainly recognized the virtue of having long, flexible-snouted folks as friends and allies, even if the other side didn't. More importantly, he knew how to manage a herd of elephants in a democratic society. Never stand in front, behind or under them, and according to Abe, “When you have got an elephant by the hind leg, and he is trying to run away, it’s best to let him run.”

Of course, letting elephants run the affairs of state had the unintended consequence of fewer job opportunities for bonified politicians, pundits and policy analysts. That's why the equal opportunity folks in America encouraged the adoption of 'donkeys' as the symbol of the Democratic Party.

The best laid plans of the pragmatists did not however appear to be working that well. To top it all off, the growing number of “white elephants” and "jackasses" everywhere began to cause a commotion. Something had to happen and fast!

The answer came in the form of several delightful diversions. An ingenius circus promoter named P.T. Barnum found a way to make people laugh and make pots of moolah from the likes of a great gallumping galoot named “Jumbo”. The tradition continued with a magical movie mogul named Walt Disney. He was the man behind a fictional, flying elephant named “Dumbo”, a "Daffy Duck" and a mouse named "Mickey", not to mention profitable outdoor theme parks built to house all the critters and mollify the munchkin families.

While it's true that British author A.A. Milne created an elusive, honey-eating, flat-footed fictional character named “Heffalump” to keep Piglet and friends happy, thanks to the invention of television and the American edu-tainment industry, millions of tiny tots around the globe will never forget “Sesame Street” and an unusual wooly mammoth named, “Aloysius Snuffleupgas”. Nor will they forget the Dr. Seuss tale about "Horton Hears the Who", an endearing elephant, and incidentally the only being on Earth who's aware of an entire civilization of wee folk living on a single dandelion.

So, if you think that elephants are an endangered species…you might want to think again. They seem to be alive and doing rather well in game preserves, zoos, theme parks, museums, books and television shows. And if you haven't had your fill of elephants, why not enjoy their starring role in a new Disney film, entitled "Pooh's Heffalump Movie", to be released on February 11, 2005.

(Note: Heffalump Hunters Beware – bagged beasts are simply not in the cards for you next year, so stop whining and take up tiddlywinks or croquet! And for those who are valiantly trying to tell their family and friends about the proverbial 'elephant in the living room' -- they can't hear you -- they're too worried about the bull in the china shop or what to wear for Halloween!)


For more information on elephants, oliphaunts, or heffalumps -- please visit one of the 826,000 websites devoted to these creatures.

Travel and Leisure magazine lists 50 romantic ways to spend a vacation. One of the "hot spots" that they recommend is the Abu Elephant Villa in the Okavango Delta in Botswana
So, bring along a "sweetie pie" and enjoy your stay in a charming abode complete with a copper bathtub, followed by a safari trip the next day on the back of an unusually large ungulate. And, don't forget to pack your digital camera capture that 'classic' elephant-taming pose, know the "ME Jane, You Bwanna!" one.

And for detailed information on where to find heffalumps, what they eat, and how to catch them, please consult Chapter 5 of "Winnie-the-Pooh"

*Ambrose Bierce, the early 20th century American author of The Devil's Dictionary had this to say about the heavy, humble, hoofed creature: "Elephant, n. A joker of the animal kingdom having a flexible nose and limited warehouse accommodation for his teeth."

**The importance of elephants should not be underestimated as revealed in the famous last words of a U.S. Civil War general (one John Segwick), who learned his lesson the hard way. In answer to his troops' urgings to take cover, he replied in a short-sighted if not stupefying manner, "They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist-."

Monday, October 11, 2004


Or, how a little bit of juicy jiggle makes the world go round

According to North American researchers, the only happy members of society these days are "Type B" personalities.

Type Bs are, by definition, not "Type A" personalities. No one could mistake them for a fault-finding flibbertygibbet or a fastidious fusspot. And, you'll never find them pushing the "Up" button feverishly on a high-speed elevator going nowhere. There is just one thing that they're driven to do at all costs, obey the posted speed limit, even when riding a unicycle.

To the dismay of the statisticians and pollsters, the only folks who truely fit the "happiest people" profile to a tee are apprenticing morticians. Not being a chipper charnel house mother, I felt I had to make the case for another category of happiness, the "Type C" personality.

"Type C" personlities are not Type As (testy toads) or Type Bs (placid pussycats). Your typical Type C is a mirthful minikin, (otherwise known as a good-natured, wee or dainty creature). This homo sapien personality simply adores the small but simple joys of life such as a serendipitous encounter with a sweet treat. And their favorite melt-in-your-mouth munchy is a jelly-bean.

To make a long story short, the "jelly bean" (a sugar coated candy) found its way into our lexicon almost a century ago. Known for their delightful diversity of colour, delicious flavour and sometimes odd texture, jelly beans are a "must have" for Harry Potter fans and damsels-in-distress.

Jelly beans are also great ice-breakers at parties or a "hot" topic of gossip around the wet-noodle water cooler. If nothing else, they'll certainly add lots of fun and frolic to the world of work. Let's face it, they're a pleasant relief from the daily deluge of pointless picayune meetings, spam email about products you don't want, or equally vexing voice mail messages, (you couldn't give a sweet tweet about -- even if it's from your best friend, The Easter Bunny).

The universe looks infinitely more palatable with a bit of jest and jiggle. And, the importance of this humble yummy for the tummy in the great scheme of things cannot be emphasized enough.

-- "You can tell a lot about a fellow's character by his way of eating jelly beans." (Ronald Reagan)

-- "Life is like jelly beans, and sometimes you get your favorite color." (Author Unknown)

-- "A friend is like a bowl of Jelly Beans... Good to the bottom of the bowl." (Author Unknown).

By the way, in case you're wondering just how vital these chewy tidbits really are, why not take a pleasurable peek at more than 116,000 websites devoted to this tasty tongue-in-cheek topic. And do enjoy a licorice lick, a chocolate chomp or a green gigglebite on me, the next time your fickle fingers feel like visiting the jocular jelly-bean jar!!


For more about the history of jelly beans, visit: http: or Candy USA! http:

In case you haven't had enough of the humble munchy, you can check out the Easter Bunny's favorite candy

Sunday, October 03, 2004


Where oh where have the mugwumps gone?

If you think we're living in some "tough tiddy times", you could be right.

After all, when the makers of "Wonderbread" and "Twinkies" have just declared bankcruptcy, it makes all the wafflers, whifflers, and wunderkins of the world a tad nervous.

Not to be discouraged, it's time to look on the bright side of things. After all, the arrival of mad cow disease just means there's a lot more opportunity to find the new love of your life in the organic veggie department at your local super-duper market. And, if that doesn't work, try hanging out in the tool section of your nearby big box home renovation store. That's where you're bound to bump into all the do-it-yourself pennypinchers who just adore swapping tall tales about their latest extreme-makeovers.

Anyway, where was I? Yes, the mugwumps, well they're an endangered species.

It seems that the world is only looking for cowboys these days. And, not just any cowboy will do thank you. Only those with a pronounced Texas drawl, an oil well on the back nine, and a long blunderbuss that will blast the heck out of varmints digging holes in well-manicured fairways, need apply.

Mugwumps, (formerly known as "great chiefs"), appear to have lost their pre-eminent position in pecking order of life. Fallen on hard times, they've become 'middle of the road' blokes with their mug on one side of a white picket fence and their wump on the other.

So, if you see a long forlorn face with flat feet, looking for a place to hang his deep-musing cap, don't annoy him by calling him an "ambivalent aardvark", a "doubting doormat" or a "vacillating vagrant". Mugwumps are sensitive souls who dearly love their uncomplicated independence. Oh, and if you're looking for someone to kick butts or kiss babies, try a high-achievement hoodwinker or a controversial contrarian, mugwumps are not interested.

Do not however mistake their calm demeanor for compliance. They just like keeping to themselves. Though not hermits or recluses, they do enjoy their own space to ruminate about what makes the world go round not to mention what makes people tick.

Clearly, the world sorely needs a few more mugwumps to remind us of the need for less "wrangling" and more "winsome" occasions to celebrate life in the slow lane.

So, if you run across a mugwump in your city or neighborhood, just smile and inquire about the health of the heffalumps, who makes the best bubble bath, and where's the best place to see shooting stars. They dearly love a good chinwag, so don't disappoint them!

And, don't forget to take time out and participate in the festivities of "International Mugwump Appreciation Day" on Friday, October 8th.


For more information about Mugwumps, feel free to check out the 19,400 websites devoted to them.

If you're one of those Neptune-oriented "need-to-know" types, by all means take a wee peek at the origin of Mugump at

But more importantly, if you cherish mugwumps as I do, don't hesitate to honor them perhaps as Mary Sullivan has in her poem, "Ambivalence - Ode to A Mugwump"