I
think we all need at least one really nice positive thing about the
entertainment  business every single day of the year, including
weekends. Sometimes it may be something simple, like a video that
showcases something fun and sometimes it may be a movie poster that
embraces the aesthetic we all want Hollywood to aspire to. Sometimes it
may be a long-winded diatribe. Sometimes it’ll be from the staff and
extended family of CHUD.com. Maybe even you readers can get in on it.
So, take this to the bank. Every day, you will get a little bit of
positivity from one column a day here. Take it with you. Maybe it’ll
help you through a bad day or give folks some fun things to hunt down in
their busy celluloid digesting day.


10.27.10
By Joshua Miller (Facebook)

What I’m Thankful For:

My childhood neighborhood on Halloween.



Like (I would assume) a majority of people who frequent CHUD, Halloween was always my favorite holiday as a kid. Even the onslaught of presents on Christmas couldn’t compare with the adventure and excitement of Halloween night. When I was very little I lived in a cul-de-sac of townhouses in Edina, Minnesota, where I was literally the only small child. So every year I would get shipped off and partnered up with other groups of kids to trick ‘r treat in their neighborhoods. It was of course extremely fun, but it was also unmemorable. Why? Because it was never my neighborhood. There was no context. Thus it was ultimately kind of a shallow experience, simply all about gathering candy. On top of this, I was at the age where my parents or parents’ friends were carting us all around. It was nice but staid.

Then, when I was about to turn nine-years-old, my family moved (largely so I could be near other kids, like a normal human being). We moved to Sandro Rd, in Bloomington, MN (home to the Mall of America) to the house labeled “A” in the Google Map above.

By the time Halloween rolled around I was nine. Now that I was finally a “big boy,” my parents decided I was old enough to trick ‘r treat by myself. Here I was, hot shit and in a brand new ‘hood. And a crazy ‘hood at that. My previous trick ‘r treating experiences had been in neighborhoods built on grid-map streets. My new ‘hood was very hilly and woodsy and as one moved up the street, away from my house, the other houses became fairly spread apart. It was a perfect place for Halloween, because, well, it was fucking scary as shit when you are nine.

When my friend Michelle and I set out for the evening I remember having horrible second thoughts. Was I actually ready for this? Maybe I wasn’t such a big boy after all. Sandro itself was just fine, but once you moved up to Mt. Normandale Dr shit got real. And forget about Northwood Ridge! It was like walking though the goddamn woods (if the woods had big middle-class houses in it). To be honest, I kind of wanted to turn back. But here I was paired with a girl, of all creatures. I knew even at that age that I had to be strong in the presence of a lady (Ms. Rappe would’ve been proud). I was a big boy now, dammit!

At the fork in the road I chose Mt. Normandale Dr, because it seemed the lesser of two scary evils. I was to regret this choice shortly when we came upon a lonesome looking driveway, at the base of which was an incredibly old wooden plaque on a stake that had at one point in time had an address on it. Now it was rotting away. Not only was it rotting away, it was rotting away in such a fashion that it looked a lot like finger pointing towards the house (most amazingly, this wasn’t a decoration, it is still there today). Being the manly big boy that I was, I decided we should brave the dark lonesome driveway. I’ve circled the house in question here above, and as you can tell from the map, this driveway proved to be ridiculously long. It led to the top of a big hill, with a nice view of our lame suburb. And the house… Big. Black. With two silver lions book-ending the front door. And a big silver door knocker. Staring at this horror, Michelle and I debated whether or not we should actually knock. Then we debated which of us had to do it. Me, the big boy, of course.

So I knocked. And the door sloooooowly slid open, open, open, until we were just staring into the dark house. Alone. Looking back logically, and given that a nice couple of yuppies lived in the house at the time (I later learned), the nice couple clearly had not shot the door all the way after the previous trick ‘r treaters, and we’d jarred it open now. But, at the time… when you walk up a long spooky driveway to a big spooky house at the top of a woodsy hill, and you knock on a door and it opens by itself and no one is there? You fucking run. Even big boys. And we fucking ran.

We survived the haunted house, just barely we determined. Then we relaxed and continued. There were more candy to be had! Fuck ghosts. But this was the 80’s, when slashers were the thing to really be afraid of. And in my neighborhood no slashers were as deadly as “bag slashers.”

After we were returning from a successful tour of Mt. Normandale Curve (where a guy dressed as a cowboy allowed you to reach into a saddle bag and pull out however many quarters you could grab – I kid you not), we were greeted by a slightly older kid holding a torn up pillowcase. “Bag slashers!” he warned us. “What are bag slashers?” we wondered. “You simple fools don’t know?” the kid seemed to say. Bag slashers, he explained, are older kids who slash your pillowcase with a knife and take all your candy! The combo of knives, older kids, and the loss of my precious candy was simply too much for me to handle. So we ran again! Back towards a house where one of my mom’s friends lived. We told her our horror story and she gave us a ride back to my house in a nice safe car, where no monsters could get us. It was a slightly ignoble end for a big boy such as myself, but I was no match for evil bag slashers. My mom later suggested that that kid was just fucking with us, running around with a torn pillowcase trying to terrify littler kids. But I wasn’t sure I believed her. Bag slashers were so terrible they had to be real!

It was an awful series of events, but the moment it was over I was grateful, for this was the exact kind of experience I had been longing to have! A scary Halloween filled with dark streets, haunted houses, evil neighbors, and a saddlebag of free quarters (okay, that wasn’t part of my fantasy but it was awesome all the same).

While I never had a Halloween as scary as that first one again, my new neighborhood proved an endless source of fantastic trick ‘r treating adventures (including the year it snowed so badly that almost no other kids ventured out, and I filled up two entire pillowcases with candy! My mom was not happy about that). Every Halloween I think back on those halcyon days, and for that I will always be thankful for my old neighborhood on those spooky, wonderful nights.