Halloween. The day where we, the living, dress in strange outfits to confuse the spirits who roam among us. Or, conversely, the day where North America's sugar intake trebles and the good people at Nestle and Hershey do little jigs around their respective offices, commemorating one of the greatest marketing coups of the 20th century. Whichever.
But Nunc Scio likes to celebrate Halloween in its own way. So here, for your reading enjoyment is an index of truly scary things, historical and contemporary, that happened on or around this fine holiday.
- According to traditional accounts, Oct. 31, 2007 was the day Martin Luther chose to pin his 95 Theses to the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. This event kicked off the Protestant Reformation, and forever cleaved the Christian Church into dueling sects of guilt-ridden party animals and dour, black-wearing capitalists. Scary for: the Pope, the Catholic Church, and makers of fine church doors now forced to reckon with the wanton politicization of their product.
- Despite being rendered largely obsolete by machine guns and massed artillery, Australian cavalry troops launched a surprise cavalry charge on the Turkish-defended town of Beersheba on October 31, 1917. The really surprising thing about this tactical gambit was that it actually worked, marking the last successful cavalry charge in military history. Scary for: Turkish soldiers, horses, and those with an unswerving faith in the power of technology.
- On Halloween, 1922, Benito Mussolini became Prime Minister of Italy, dragging it into two decades of fascism, war, and defeat. Scary for: Italians, friends of democracy, and people who dislike killing dictators and hanging their corpses from meathooks in front of gas stations.
- Magician and escapologist Harry Houdini died on October 31, 1926, proving yet again the difficulty of escaping from multiple blows to the abdomen. Or, if you believe the conspiracy theorists, a band of marauding spiritualist fraudsters. Scary for: escape artists, boxers, or anyone who hates the letter 'H'.
- On Halloween, 2007, reports begin to surface that Iraq's Mosul Dam is dangerously near collapse, threatening to unleash a trillion-gallon wave on the cities of Mosul and Baghdad. To put that in perspective, take the worst thing you can think of, multiply it by 10, then stick your head in a bucket of water. Scary for: residents of Mosul, and anybody who requires oxygen to live.
- In the week leading up to Halloween, 2007, reports begin to emerge from India of trees eating cows. And you've got to wonder: once trees start eating cows, can man-eating trees be far behind? Scary for: anybody who lives near, or conducts a portion of their daily business by, a tree.
So there you go. The world is a scary, scary place...at least if you belong to certain select constituencies. But I think we can all agree: man-eating trees are bad news.
The typical Jack-o-Lantern. Scary, yes. But can it eat you?