October is a great time for raking leaves, taking hayrides, and hiring a paranormal investigator to check whether your house is haunted.
Don’t think you can handle this yourself. Unless you’re really paranoid, you’ll probably miss many clues that confirm “haunted” status.
For instance, when slime mysteriously appears on countertops, many people assume that someone in the household was doing Jell-O shots. It takes a trained P.I. to identify this as ghost residue.
Or let’s say your dog starts barking at unseen things. Your P.I. realizes the dog senses a spirit presence. Never mind that your dog barks 90 percent of the time, at things both seen and unseen.
Other signs of haunting you may have overlooked:
--Cold spots in some rooms have nothing to do with furniture blocking heating vents. They’re a sure sign that dead people are living rent-free in your home.
--Midnight scratching and rustling might not be mice, as you thought, but something else. Ooooh. And you’re better off knowing exactly what else before it hacks you to pieces some night.
--Odd feelings like headaches and static should never be passed off as normal byproducts of dry indoor air due to the furnace kicking in. These are indications that spirits are sucking the breath from your lungs.
--After declaring that your house is haunted, the P.I. will recommend a plan of action that corresponds to (1) how badly it’s haunted, and (2) whether the P.I. needs extra cash to buy a snowmobile this winter.
If the ghosts in your house are merely slamming doors or tickling the back of your neck, you might get by with an Exorcism Lite package. But expect to pony up for a full-fledged de-ghosting if you’ve experienced any of the following serious signs.
--Portraits on the wall follow you with their eyes, especially when you’re undressing
--Your keepsakes (e.g., the bumblebee pin) turn up at a neighborhood pawn shop
--A headless man drives a lawn tractor through your living room
--A teenager’s room suddenly becomes ultra-clean and tidy
--Strange voices mumble, scream, and demand that you turn up the thermostat
--Fire breaks out in your underwear drawer
--YooHoo Chocolate Drink gushes out of bathroom faucets
--Your toaster picks up ghost broadcasts of the theme song from “Branded”
Wearing a costume while handing out treats might scare off some kids if they think it's the real you.
Instead of candy, give out healthy snacks like apples, whole walnuts, small boxes of raisins, single-serve cereals, and baby carrots.
Dress like Sesame Street’s Big Bird. Make kids count “1-2-3” out loud as you hand them treats. Within minutes, you’ll notice kids crossing the street to avoid your place.
Use a fog machine to obscure your house from the road.
Make children sing a cute song to earn their treat – for instance, the aria “O mio babbino caro” from Puccini’s opera Gianni Schicchi. By now they’ll be writing chalk messages on the sidewalk warning friends to steer clear of your place.
Just happen to begin building a moat around your house that day.
Leave the lawn sprinkler running.
Prop stereo speakers in your window, but instead of a scary soundtrack, play your old Lawrence Welk albums. And-a-one, and-a-two…
Remove the button from the doorbell so they’re pressing a live wire instead. Hey, it’s only 24 volts.
Hang out Christmas lights and scatter fake snow. This might confuse the dumb kids. In some neighborhoods, that’s more than half the kids.
Move to an apartment building with a mean doorman.
The origins of the term “Indian summer” are subject to much speculation and debate, most of it boring.
Some say the phrase originated in the fall of 2005, by which time 99 percent of U.S. service-call centers had outsourced their work to India. Obviously, this claim is ridiculous, since it’s the wrong Indians.
Others say Indian summer refers to a period of warm, hazy weather in October or November. Since our weather this year went immediately from too frickin' hot to too frickin' cold, this doesn't apply.
Some claim that Native Americans were the first to recognize this weather pattern. But by failing to trademark the term, they lost all future royalties on its use. This led to widespread poverty until they got into the casino business.
One thing most experts agree on: the term “Injun” is politically incorrect. So, naturally, that’s how we’re spelling our title.
Dear Yoga Expert:
I was trying to do the Downward Pooping Dog pose, and now I can't get up. Help!
--Stuck in San Diego
Getting stuck is a common problem for beginners who don't have all their chakras aligned yet. The only solution is to let nature take its course. Eventually, your weak abs will cause your entire core to collapse like a piece of overcooked pasta. In the meantime, keep chanting your mantra. If you don't have a mantra, try humming the theme from "Green Acres." Good luck.
--The Yoga Expert
Major League Baseball games have become so long and boring that sleep clinics now use re-broadcasts to cure people of chronic insomnia. But spectators who prefer to avoid a vegetative state would prefer that baseball make some changes to jazz things up.
--No more lengthy conferences on the mound. If the pitcher, catcher and manager want to kibbitz, let them text each other.
--Reduce the pitcher's role even further by switching to T-ball. This also pretty much eliminates the need for an umpire's judgment calls. Every swing is either a hit or a strike.
--The potential for stolen bases eats up too much time as the pitcher constantly eyes runners on base. Why not go back to the old reliable Hammurabi code, which punishes stealing by stoning to death?
--No more seventh-inning stretch. In fact, let's make the whole game six innings total.
--Allow beer vendors to serve the players as well as fans in the stands. A loosey-goosey vibe on the field will create hilariously entertaining errors.
--Any ball caught by a fan in the stands should be considered "in play." This fielder's choice may be thrown back onto the field or auctioned off to surrounding spectators.
You've seen them displayed at upscale bakeries and supermarkets: dozens of cleverly decorated taffy apples. You've got to wonder about turnover, though. How many taffy apples can they sell in a day, or even a week? Is that taffy apple -- the one that's calling your name -- really fresh?
Now there's a way to tell: a clever new method I'm calling the Taste Test (patent pending).
1. Buy the taffy apple. Retailers get upset if you skip this step.
2. Examine it closely. Unlike beer, gourmet taffy apples have no "born on" date, so you've got to rely on your senses. Remove the wrapper. Sniff all over the taffy apple the way a dog would.
3. Take a big bite.
4. And another.
5. And another.
6. If you haven't hit a rotten spot yet, the taffy apple is probably fresh. Finish it off.
7. If you do hit a rotten spot, eat around it and keep going.
There's a chronically perky teller at my business bank. Esmerelda (not her real name) is usually about halfway through the transaction when she suddenly asks me "And how is Leah today?" I've been working on some smart-alecky answers.
--"I don't know. I haven't talked to her lately."
--"She's fine. And how is Esmerelda today?"
--"She's got a good beat, and you can dance to her."
I probably don't have the nerve to use any of these, which is just as well, since you shouldn't mess with someone who has access to your cash.
The Associated Press reports that a traffic-control program in Caracas, Venezuela, employs mimes at crosswalks to "politely and silently scold" reckless drivers and careless pedestrians.
Since mimes, who constitute approximately .0001% of the world's population, are loathed by the other 99.9999%, here are some better uses for mimes in public spaces:
--breakaway safety posts at curbs
--doggy-do bag dispensers and collectors
--poles for posting "Work from home $$$$" fliers
1. Start a house fire by pressing leaves between two pieces of waxed paper and drying them in the microwave.
2. Use magnetic clips to fasten leaves to the refrigerator, where they will shrivel and turn brown within 10 minutes.
3. Remove stuffing from a bed pillow and replace it with crushed leaves. Give it to anyone in your household who wishes to develop an exciting new allergy.
4. Tape leaves to a sheet of poster paper. Use a felt-tip pen to label your poster “Why Leaves Change Color in Autumn.” Realize you don’t know and don’t care why leaves change color in autumn, and be glad you’ve outgrown science projects.
5. Rake leaves after dark. Dump them into your neighbors’ pool.
6. Use leaves and clothing dye to create a leaf-shadow T-shirt your kids wouldn’t be caught dead in.
7. Store a bag of dried leaves in the guest room for crafts you intend to do. Rediscover the leaves six months later as you’re trying to determine how all those aphids got into the house.
8. Play “leaf roulette” by crumbling various dried leaves into your tea to determine which ones are poisonous.
9. Decide to make compost from your leaf pile, thereby turning a seasonal chore into a full-time obsession.
10. Shellac two leaves, add wires, and wear as super-sized earrings.