Time to tune out the news?


I tend to follow the news quite closely but this is the time of year when I find the news to be dreary for three reasons and feel tempted to follow the example of the family in the cartoon.

The first reason is because with just three weeks to go before the mid-term elections in the US, the discussion here consists almost exclusively of pundits examining the polls and tea leaves and trying to predict the outcome, thus inevitably going over the same ground again and again, trying to make sense of tiny fluctuations in numbers. At least politics in the UK is dealing with serious policy issues in addition to the leadership drama.

The second is that the period before Halloween sees almost not stop plugs for horror films, a genre that I avoid, and other horror-related items. I have been invited to a party on October 30th and was told that costumes are encouraged but not required. While I can understand how children may like the opportunity to dress up, why adults might want to do so eludes me. So I told the host that if she really did not mind, I would turn up in everyday attire, to which she replied that that was fine, that she was sure there would be other ‘sensible’ (which I translate as ‘boring’) people like me.

The third is that because since both Halloween and Thanksgiving are associated with pumpkins, a craze seems to have arisen at this time of year for something called ‘pumpkin spice’ which is a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice and ginger. It apparently has no actual pumpkin in it. So how come the name? It may have got it from being used to flavor the pumpkin pies that are part of the traditional Thanksgiving meal. Since I dislike pumpkins as a vegetable or in pies, the very label ‘pumpkin spice’ is enough to turn me off.

It seems that some people simply cannot get enough of this flavoring at this time of year, even though only the name has any connection with pumpkins. This Non Sequitur cartoon captures how the flavoring seems to be in everything.


  1. marner says

    So I told the host that if she really did not mind, I would turn up in everyday attire…

    I’m reminded of Wednesday Addams quote in the The Addams Family movie:

    This is my costume. I’m a homicidal maniac. They look just like everyone else.

  2. jrkrideau says

    It apparently has no actual pumpkin in it. So how come the name?

    I think your guess is correct but a chef I knew used to produce ‘plum sauce” for egg rolls with nary a trace of plums.

  3. jrkrideau says

    It depends on the year but here in Canada we have been having a relatively interesting autumn. Alberta seems to have elected a UPC party leader (AKA Premier of Alberta) who is whack-doodle crazy and the Public hearings on use of Emergencies Act have just opened, making good TV for political junkies. There is lots more but things are interesting.

    We do not have things such as “midterm elections” but since we have a minority gov’t there is the possibly of a general election being called at any moment.

  4. Tethys says

    While I can understand how children may like the opportunity to dress up, why adults might want to do so eludes me.

    Because the point of a party is to have social fun, and do something outside your normal routine. Trick or Treating is for children, but dressing up for Halloween is traditionally part of the fun. I think it odd that adults think that play and silly fun are for children.

    A costume is limited only by your own creativity.
    It doesn’t need to be elaborate. Powder your face white, clip an aquarium plant to your jacket, and you could be a drowning victim. Or omit the powder and be a merman on land for the night.

  5. John Morales says

    On the major topic, ignorance is not bliss.

    On the minor topic, for me, parties are a social obligation unless they are restricted to people I already know and like. I’m not the only one, but such as I are not typical.

    On the spicy topic, meh. Clearly it’s available all year round, so that this business of associating it with this time period is just cultural habit.
    And… <clickety-click> “DID YOU KNOW…that Pumpkin Pie Spice was created by McCormick & Company? That’s right – the fall flavor that you know and love was launched in 1934 as an easy way to mix ingredients for pumpkin pie.”

  6. Kimpatsu1000 says

    If anyone asks you at the party what you’ve come as, tell them you’re a serial killer because they look just like everybody else.

  7. Silentbob says

    Mano, speaking of news (he said, desperately trying to segue to something completely off-topic),

    John Oliver did a lengthy segment on the current wave of appalling attacks on trans rights. Since I know, a) you take the movement for trans equality and acceptance seriously, and b) you like John Oliver, you may be interested in promoting it.


    I think it’s awesome to see someone in the media having the guts to stand up to transphobia.

  8. Katydid says

    Pumpkin spice is just a shortening of “pumpkin pie spice”. Since I have a family member with gluten issues, I typically make a crustless pumpkin pie. I don’t use a premixed blend because I have my own spices and because we like some of the spices (cinnamon, mostly) turned up to 10.

    Pumpkin spice is similar to the chai spice blend I like in black tea, and it’s very warming this time of year when the mornings and evenings are chilly.

    As for the news…it depends on what you watch. One of my local news channels tends to focus on celebrities and tv programs, so I tend to avoid them. Another one focuses on local news, including upcoming events and traffic issues, so they’re usually worth my time.

  9. says

    I rather like pumpkin (as a vegetable). It’s just another squash. We do a lot with squash in the fall.

    Regarding costumes, I was once invited to such a party. My costume was a small cardboard sign that I hung around my neck. I drew an arrow pointing to the side and the words “I’m going as him”. Then I would just stand next to people.

  10. Katydid says

    I like pumpkin, too. It’s mild. I use it in the fall, too; soups and stews and muffins and crustless pumpkin pie (it’s just a custard, but people who say they hate custard, love it when it’s under an assumed name) and cubed pumpkin roasted in the oven and sprinkled with pumpkin spice.

    Another fun fact about pureed pumpkin; it’s got a fair amount of fiber in it, and it’s a good thing to slip a small amount into a pet’s food from time to time.

  11. says

    A friend of mine used to just wear his normal suit and carry his usual briefcase. One year his costume was “IRS auditor”, another it was “process server”, etc. definitely the scariest costume there.

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