WHERE’S THE KA-BOOM?: Imagine turning on the TV and seeing a news broadcast about aliens invading Earth. What would you do? Hide? Panic? Breathe a sigh of relief that at least they’ve stopped talking about the government shutdown? Well, 75 years ago Wednesday, that’s exactly what happened to radio listeners in the Eastern U.S. People tuning in to “The Mercury Theatre on the Air,” instead heard what they thought were news reports about invaders from Mars. In a jittery world on the brink of real war, many believed the broadcast was actually happening, and they thought they’d soon find themselves on the business end of a Martian death ray. Panic and hi-jinks ensued. What they were actually listening to was Orson Welles’ dramatization of “The War of the Worlds,” presented in fake news bulletin format. If they had only tuned into the beginning of the show, they would have known that. If you’d like to learn more about this incident, PBS’ “American Experience” will examine the story at 9 p.m. on Tuesday.
MAKING A LIST: Step 1: Turn on the computer. 2: Open Word document. 3: Begin with blurb about “The War of the Worlds.” 4: Spend two hours surfing internet. 5: Buy Season 3 of “The Six Million Dollar Man” on DVD from Amazon. 6: FOCUS! 7: Use lazy writing device to let the four people still reading this know Wednesday is Checklist Day. 8: Explain how Checklist Day is intended to remind people using a checklist can help organize their lives and avoid unnecessary distractions. 9: Stare at shiny objects.
THIS IS HALLOWEEN: The evolution of holidays from their origins is a strange journey. How else do you explain a tradition starting out as a way to honor the dead transforming into a ritual of organized bribery dealing in sugary substances? Back in ye olde dayes, people in Great Britain would go door-to-door on All Hallows’ Eve singing and saying prayers for the dead in return for a soul cake – a spice cake usually marked with the sign of the cross. Tradition held that for each cake eaten, a soul would get a ticket out of purgatory. The practice, called “souling” is often seen as the origins of modern day trick-or-treating. Add a few hundred years to the equation, and the earnest attempt to help souls enter heaven has turned into a 6-year-old dressed like Yoda begging for candy. Something to think about this Halloween.
SAINTS BE PRAISED: And while we’re on the subject of heaven … According to Christian tradition, there are some select folks whose lives were so holy, they didn’t need the help of soul cakes to get in. These would be the saints. And the day after Halloween is set aside As All Saints Day – honoring those men and women who achieved the ultimate reward of faith. That would be ALL saints, not just the big names. So, for every St. Michael, Joseph, Anne, Teresa and Francis out there, there’s also a St. Goar. St. Goar? Yes. The 7th-century priest was the patron saint of wine growers. Or St. Hilarius, who, as far as we know, wasn’t particularly funny, but was pope in 461. Or St. Wolfeius, an English hermit who proved bad personal hygiene in life does not keep you off the fast track to heaven.
A REAL COUNTRY BOY: Country music sure has changed. Today’s stars may be talented singers but they sometimes look like they walked off the set of an Old Navy commercial. These up and comers don’t even look like they old enough to drink whiskey, let alone sing about the stuff’s miraculous ability to treat a broken heart. They haven’t earned the right to sing country. Now, country legend Merle Haggard … he’s EARNED it. He ran away from home at 14, got arrested a few times, been divorced four times, fought lung cancer and once played for free beer. Now THAT’S a country resume. Oh, and he’s also REALLY good. Haggard will be at the F.M. Kirby Center this Saturday at 8 p.m.