Samuel J. Tanner 4 minute read


Halloween? Spooky.

I'll write a spooky blog this week.


Scared? No? Right.

Forgive me. I'm nothing like Stephen King. Less rich. Way more attractive.

A Nor'easter came through State College last weekend. What's a nor'easter? I don't know either. I looked it up on Google. It's when it rains a lot in the North Atlantic Zone. I guess Pennsylvania is in the North Atlantic Zone. It rained for two days straight last week. It was gray and windy. Spooky.

Incidentally, a Nordeaster is a person from Northeast Minneapolis. I used to live in Northeast Minneapolis. Northeast Minneapolis is a trendy neighborhood in the Twin Cities. This area was gritty, and working-class during much of the 20th century. Nordic people settled in the neighborhood that was north (and east) of downtown Minneapolis. Germans. Scandanavians. Thus, Nordeasters. The Grainbelt Brewery dominated an industrial landscape of warehouses, bars, and bluecollar housing along the Mississippi River. These humble establishments have since been replaced by art galleries, craft breweries, and coffee shops. Gentrification. Spooky.

Did you know that I bought my house in Northeast for $160,000 in 2008? I sold it for $160,000 in 2014. The housing market imploded, remember? Spooky. Zillow lists that same house at $200,000 these days. Think about how much money I lost out on. Spookier.

Anyway, a Nordeaster shouldn't be confused for a Nor'easter. Replace a the d with a ', and you dramatically change the meaning of a word. Language is magical, and can be very spooky. If you're Stephen King.

You should see my neighborhood in Happy Valley at the end of October. Vibrant forests of yellow, red, and gold. Spooky barns rest on huges swathes of empty farmland. The corn is cut down. The leaves are falling. It's like the Legend of Sleepy Hallow out here. Ichabod Crane. That story terrified me as a child. I remember listening as my kindergarten teacher read to us. The picture of the headless horseman sent shivers down my spine. I didn't sleep for weeks. Spooky.

I was a huge Stephen King fan, by the way. I got it from my grandmother. Grandma loved spooky things. She used to turn the lights down low, and play Alfred Hitchcock records for me when I was a child. I loved Grandma. She was so odd, so creative. So funny. Still, Hitchcock will mess you up when you're a little boy.

Grandma had Stephen King books on her shelf, and I used to page through them. I read It when I was eleven. I was hooked. I've read everything of King's that predates the 4th Dark Tower book. I hated book four. I couldn't finish the serious. The Dark Tower III: The Wasteland is a masterpiece. Everything after that fell short for me. I'll acknowledged that I haven't tried much of his new stuff. I was just so dissapointed by The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass. What a trainwreck. Maybe artists lose their cutting edge with age and success. Spooky. I've had plenty of age, not so much success. Spookier.

Speaking of my grandmother. One of my earliest halloween memories involves her. Grandma dressed in a black shawl, and painted her face white. It was Halloween in the early 80's. Grandma had come over to our big house in Highland Park. She was staying home to hand out candy. Grandma hid in the foyer of our big house in Highland Park, and jumped out at me before my sister and I left to go trick-or-treating. I was horrified. The image was seared into my innocent mind. Spooky. Searing images? Years later, I watched as Grandma withered away to nothing in a hospital bed. She was an alcholic, and had pickled her liver. Spookier. The same thing happened to my mother, years later. Spookiest. Searing.

Okay, this blog took a dark turn. Look, you wanted spooky, and boo didn't do it for you. Life is pretty spooky, my friends. On October 31st, but year-round too. Well, it can be. Unless you find productive ways to cope with the spookiest. Find Jesus, or something. Then life is pretty magical. There's a delicate balance between spooky and magical, I guess. Existence is both of those things, to be sure. I ended most of the previous sentence with a clause. How's that for a spooky use of lanuage?