The Widow's Halloween
August 21, 1976
October 31, 2013

The pumpkin's hollow head returns her gaze;His yellow eyes are dancing in the flame.And she, she has him on her window sillWithin a draft that flickers on his brain. His jagged smile and diamond eyesAre mirrored in the darkened panes.Set to be seen,

The ‘Heroic’ Mayor and His Local Haters
December 14, 2012

And that food-stamps challenge? Yeah, not helping.

Boardwalk Vampires
November 16, 2012

The ghosts of Atlantic City have nowhere to hide.

"I Thought We’d Already Answered That Question": Will Politicians Keep Talking About Climate Change?
November 04, 2012

Sandy might mark the beginning of an important shift in the political dynamic around climate change.

A Guy, a Girl, and 366 Straight Days at Disneyland
September 14, 2012

When Jeff Reitz and Tonya Mickesh lost their jobs they made a vow: go to Disneyland every single day for the next year.

The Facebook Part of Your Brain
May 08, 2012

Why do I post my opinions online, day after day? Ostensibly it's to earn money to feed my family. But there are much easier ways to do that. According to a new study by Harvard psychologists Diana I. Tamir and Jason P. Mitchell published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (and written up in the May 8 Wall Street Journal), I suffer from a "species-specific motivation to share one's beliefs and knowledge about the world" that kicks in at about 9 months, which means I've been doing it almost 54 years.

Americans Refuse To Give Up The Ghost
October 31, 2011

Around the world, people today are celebrating Halloween with costumes, candy, celebrations of the strange and frightening, and this charming Google homepage. By tomorrow, though, costumes will be discarded, candy supplies diminished (and stomachs bloated), and pumpkins left on the stoop to rot until the neighbors complain. In other words, Halloween will disappear from most people’s minds until next October. But there’s a more serious side to Halloween: the persistence, around the world, of belief in the occult and the paranormal.

Why Are There No Great Easter Songs?
April 22, 2011

Although I don’t have time to count them, since life expectancy in the United States is only 78.2 years, I suspect that the number of winter holiday songs—and I refer ecumenically not only to Christmas music but to tunes broadly celebrating the wintery season—must be around a zillion kazillion. From the morning after Halloween until New Year’s Day, they are inescapable, and singers in innumerable styles (and of varying religious and cultural backgrounds) keep making CDs of songs still widely thought of as Christmas music.

The Easter Bunny Is For Children
April 21, 2011

On Sunday morning, children all over the country will embark on an annual hunt for Easter eggs, hopefully full of sugary treats. The White House expects 30,000 attendees for its annual Easter Egg Roll, and Americans will buy 71 million pounds of chocolate candy for the holiday. In spite of her responsibilities as the mother of 21 children, the Easter Bunny is one of the most familiar mythical figures in American folklore. Nevertheless, not every child believes in the Easter Bunny, as anyone who's ever debated said bunny's existence in kindergarten can tell you.