My top 10 Halloween Songs, Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

Halloween music is becoming popular in the same way as Christmas music.  You don’t think so?  Listen up.  It’s all around and has been playing all week.  Sirius XM radio has a temporary station dedicated to Halloween music, almost like they do for Christmas music.  Just for howls, you can listen in on Halloween for a night of creepy and scary sounds.  It’s a little something to traumatize the little ones.


So with the emphasis on the ghoulish this week, it seems only right that I give you again my top ten favorite Halloween songs.  When I thought of this list I soon had 20 titles, so I stopped looking and started trimming it down.  Some of the titles sounded good, but the music was a disappointment.  For example, I hunted down the theme song to the old television series, Thriller, but the music was more of a 50’s jazz sound and not scary at all.

A few were fun songs and while they were popular, they didn’t make the cut.  Ghostbusters immediately came to mind.  It is a slick melody, but not necessarily fitting of a fright night.  Little Shop of Horrors was a fun play and the title tune is catchy, but also not scary or fun in a traditional Halloween way.  Rocky Horror Picture Show gave us Time Warp.  That may make a lot of lists, but not mine.  Sweeny Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, has some gruesome moments, but which song would make the grade here?  A Little Priest?

Counting down from number 10, I offer the first 5 (last five?) on the list as musical themes to frighten the little trick or treaters.  Perhaps you would like to have these playing through a speaker on your front porch to encourage little ones to make the frightful climb to your front door.  Who knows what might be lurking just inside?

10. Halloween movie theme
9. Jaws movie theme
8. A Nightmare on Elm Street movie theme
7. Exorcist movie theme
6. Psycho movie theme

These five should provide plenty of creepy music for you.  If that doesn’t do it, add in one of my all-time favorite television themes.

5. The Twilight Zone theme song

We can lighten the theme up for a moment “with a spooky little girl like you.”

4. Spooky, Classics IV

The classic theme song from The Addams Family goes on my list.  It is not “mysterious and spooky,” but it is a lot of fun.  Go ahead, sing along.  You know you want to.

3. The Addams Family theme song

If it is Halloween, then we need some Werewolves.  This famous pop song was recorded in 1978 and the studio recording featured Mick Fleetwood and John McVie of Fleetwood Mac on drums and bass.

2. Werewolves of London, Warren Zevon

There is no doubt what will be number one.  It is the all-time classic that everyone knows.  Despite the fact that radio stations overplay it every year at this time, its appeal never wears out.  It was released in 1962 with Bobby Pickett performing the song with his Boris Karloff imitation.  The week before Halloween it went to number 1 on the charts.  Fittingly, it has been dragged out every year since.

1. Monster Mash, Bobby Pickett

Monster Mash, Bobby Pickett and Leonard L. Capizzi, Garpax (US); Decca (UK) labels, 1962


I just noticed I’ve published 4014 posts. Here, on Serendipity. I must have passed 4,000 posts last week. I didn’t notice. I was busy.



Time slips by. Years slip by, but the last couple of months have been dizzying.

Fallen leaves on the deck

I will continue to be way too busy during the few couple months. I have been posting less … and there will be even fewer posts coming up.

72-Canal-River Bend_053

I’ve got my big project that eats hours of my time … and I am dreading the holidays. I haven’t shopped and don’t have time to even think about shopping, much less creative blogging.

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I wish I could magic a few more hours in my day, but hard as I try, the spell eludes me. There isn’t enough time in my life to get it all done. In the name of not turning what should be fun into stress, I hereby say: I will do my best. I will do what I can, when I can.


If it doesn’t get done, oh well. If anyone knows that spell and would please send it to me?


I thought retirement meant I was going to have a lot of time on my hands. What happened?


For a woman who is essentially religiously neutral, firmly clinging to my position of “no opinion” like a limpet on a wet rock with the tide coming in — I really love church music. I cannot help myself. Play me some Christmas carols and I am singing (croaking?) along with heartfelt enthusiasm.

Blame my elementary school teachers, not to mention all those little Christian girls with whom I grew up.

rhyming HallelujahMy parents neglected to mention I was Jewish. They failed to mention religion at all for the first 8 years of my life. I knew we didn’t have a Christmas tree. I knew my mother didn’t eat ham or bacon, but the rest of us ate it and my father cooked it.

I wanted Christmas and felt deprived every year when my friends had millions of presents and a big tree and we had Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman, two electrified plastic statues in our front window — the family’s nod to the holidays.

No menorah. No synagogue. No indication of any kind of holiday in progress except for our two plastic friends.

I didn’t know what a Jew was. I knew what a Catholic was because several friends went to St. Gerard’s, the nearby Catholic school. I knew what nuns and priests were. I could say the rosary, because Mary taught me.

I knew what Lutheran was, because Carol got time off every Wednesday afternoon to go for religious instruction. I had heard about Sunday School. And Mass. And services.

One day, at school, they showed a series of films designed to teach us to not be anti-Semites or racists.

It was a strip film with sound. Joe was on a trapeze trying to do a flying somersault. The catcher, clearly Jewish because he had a big star of David on his chest, was the catcher. But Joe, a blatant anti-Semite, wouldn’t take Joe’s hands and fell to the floor. Splat.

“Don’t be a shmo, Joe.

Be in the know, Joe.

Be in the know, and you won’t fall on your face.”

Then we got a lecture on being nice to Jews. I went home and asked my parents, “What’s a Jew?”

Mom turned to Dad and said these immortal words, “Albert, we have to do something about this.”

Shortly thereafter, my peaceful Sunday mornings were interrupted by boring classes at the nearby synagogue. I would come home pumped up on bible stories which my mother, the atheist, would promptly debunk. It wasn’t long before I was allowed to stop attending. It was clearly not “my thing.” If they’d let me out on Wednesday afternoon at 1 pm like the Christian kids, I’d have gone with more enthusiasm, just to get off from school early.

That being said, my enthusiasm for church music remains unabated. I love hymns, the organ, choirs. The blending of voices tugs at my heartstrings. I sang my heart out in the glee clubs of childhood and the All-City Chorus (Mozart’s Requiem — I was an alto) in High School. And of course, in college I was a music major.

It made my mother more than a little nervous as I wandered around the house singing the Mass in Latin. I did explain to her that the history of Western music is church music. From plainsong, to Hayden, Bach, Mozart and all the others who have followed.

Organized religion is the primary consumer of choral music. I am by no means the only person who can be lured into church by a choir.

little church 33

If Sunday morning services were all music without the rest of the yada, yada, I’d be there. From gospel to the local children’s choir, it’s all beautiful to me.

I suppose finally discovering I was of Jewish origin should have grounded me somehow, but it didn’t. Not really. It set me on a much longer path that I am still walking. Forever the seeker, I have learned it’s the journey that matters, not the destination.



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So you want red?

The last time my face was really red, I had a terrible sunburn. I’m not much of a blusher. Lacking a hugely embarrassing story to brighten your day, here is red of the world.

In flower, cars, trucks and the leaves of autumn. Barns and carousels, bricks, cranberries, and peppers. Red, redder, scarlet. Bricks and bright fabric. Red, my favorite color that isn’t black. Back “in the day” (whatever that means), my favorite “semi-dressup” was a black outfit with a red blazer.

I haven’t worn a blazer in years, but I think I still have a dozen of them in my closet. No wonder I can’t find my tee shirts!



“So,” says Uncle Shmuel, who having appeared out of nowhere, now miraculously speaks vernacular American English — albeit with a heavy Yiddish accent, “Nice place you got here. I see you keep your animals in your house. That one there sounds like a pig but looks like a dog.”

“They are our pets, Uncle Shmuel. The oinker is Nan. She just makes that sound. She’s kind of old. I think that’s the dog equivalent of ‘oy’.”

“Pets, shmets. Animals. In the house. What’s next? Toilets? Never mind, your life, your choice. Oy.”

“Can I give you something to eat? Tea? Coffee? Cake? If we don’t have it, I can go out and buy some.”

“Are you Kosher?”

“Uh, no. Not Kosher,” and I shiver, remembering the bacon that has passed through our kitchen. “Oh, wait, here’s my husband. Uncle Shmuel, I’d like you to meet my husband Garry.”

Shmuel looks shrewdly at Garry, then at me. “He doesn’t look Jewish.”

Garry’s eyes twinkle. “But really I am,” he says and deftly pulls a yarmulke out of his pocket. It say “Joel’s Bar Mitzvah” across the back in big white letters. Fortunately, Shmuel doesn’t notice.

“So,” Shmuel continues after a pregnant pause, “You have problems with the Cossacks?”

“No Cossacks, but lots of politicians,” I reply.

“Cossacks, politicians, there’s a difference?”

“Not so much,” I admit.

“And for a living you do what?”

“We’re retired. But before that, I was a writer. Garry was a reporter. On television.”

“What’s a television?”

I look at Shmuel, realize we are about to embark on an extended conversation, so all I say is: “Oy vay is mir!” Which seems to sum it up.

Oy vay. Can someone set the table?


In Israel, they have a word that translates loosely to “close-far.” It refers to the tribe of “almost relatives” by marriage or informal adoption. This includes all the rest of the folks who claim some sort of relationship to you, like your cousin Alfie’s second wife’s husband’s niece.


I recommend we have a Gathering Day during which we collect all these “relatives.” The ones who are related by blood, albeit so distantly we are unclear on lines of descent (but are sure they are there, somewhere), the kids mom and dad fostered while their parents were getting a divorce. The related-by-marriage to second and third cousins and their off-spring. The brothers-in-law of our sister-in-law, twice divorced and their adopted children’s children from their third marriage.

A mighty big picnic. With guitars. And booze. Lots of burning meat. A sing along to which everyone brings their favorite dishes.

Ya think? We get a day off from work during the best time of year for warm, sunny weather and do it in a public park. It’s safer in public.

We will call it Extended Family Day. It would be a huge hit! The greeting cards and invitations alone would generate a ton of money and maybe some new jobs! No downside unless you are unlucky enough to come from a family dominated by bad cooks.

Who’s ready to jump on my bandwagon?

Don’t be a spoil sport. Even if you have no known relatives or none you want to know, you can invite all the fake aunts and cousins — or hook up to another group and be one of the almost relatives in someone else’s clan. Anyone for whom you feel even the vaguest familial attachment will suffice.

On this special day of days, water is as thick as blood!


Jackman Maine 2010



It was nearly the end of May. Jackman, Maine, and the moose were everywhere. We were sharing one of the big cabins. Three bedrooms, lots of bathrooms. Huge kitchen and dining area, suitable for a crowd.

Fireplace, porch. We went moose hunting with our cameras every night for a week. It was our first trip to Jackman, and as it turned out — as a group — it would also be the only one.

Lots of laughter shared, quiet nights in that nearly wild place. Kaity was taking the picture. Left to right, it is Garry, me, Ron, Cherrie, and Sandy. I can truly say “a good time was had by all.” How often can you really say that?