We don’t need to watch horror movies to scare ourselves.

We need only turn on the nightly news.

While I’m a dedicated news gatherer and feel it my obligation to stay abreast of  what is happening locally and around the world, I sure do dread watching the TV news sometimes.

In that vein, Halloween has become a nightly occurrence.

Last week, a newscast included a story about a Michigan man who traveled to Florida to help with hurricane cleanup and contracted a flesh-eating bacteria from the floodwaters and it killed him.

Another story that night was about the recent scourge of RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, that is sickening kids and killing some. That’s enough to scare the bejesus out of anyone.


Add to that the report about the Mississippi day care where employees were donning horrifying ghost masks and scaring tiny children until they cried and screamed. Someone videotaped the activity.

Who does this?

I’ve come to also dread reports of constant shootings in the U.S. to the point where my brain shuts down.

With such a simple solution at hand and no one pursuing it, I catch myself angrily uttering aloud, “Give ’em more guns.” Doesn’t common sense tell us to just remove the deadly firearms? Most other countries don’t have this problem.

To say the war in Ukraine is a horror show is an understatement and we see news of that every night also.

I’ve never been a fan of horror stories or movies. When I was a college student, I saw the movie “Jaws” and wasn’t too frightened, though the person accompanying me was terrified. I read only one Stephen King novel, long ago, called “Pet Sematary.” Scared the crap out of me. Never read another.


In all fairness to King, the films “The Shawshank Redemption,” “The Green Mile” and “The Dead Zone” were very well done and not at all spooky.

It may be my imagination, but it seems there has been an increased interest in Halloween these past few years.

When we were kids, the holiday was much simpler. We bought a mask, crafted our own costumes and went trick-or-treating.

Decorating for Halloween meant carving a pumpkin with a butcher knife on the kitchen table and carving out triangular eyes, nose and smiling or scowling mouth with missing teeth. We sliced open the pumpkin top, slopped out the seeds, placed a lit candle inside and left it on the porch step. Sometimes we found it the next morning, smashed on the road.

Dried corn stalks from a farmer’s field, bunched up and tied around the mailbox with baling twine, was another holiday decoration.

Now, people’s lawns are littered with giant blow up witches, ghosts, skeletons and other ghoulish displays.


At the risk of being labeled a party-pooper, I am horrified at the thought of all that plastic getting tossed and replaced with more updated fare, eventually winding up in landfills.

As Halloween creeps up on us, I acknowledge the little ones are awfully cute in their trick-or-treating attire, seeking candy.

Except this year, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration officials say federal agents seized fentanyl manufactured to look like colorful candy.

Shall I wish you a Happy Halloween?

“Aarrrgggh,” may be more apropos.

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 34 years. Her columns appear here weekly. She may be reached at acalder@centralmaine.com. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to centralmaine.com.

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