Feel Good Friday – “This Is Halloween”

by admin on October 24, 2014

Given the recent debate among the comments regarding the legitimacy of Halloween as a holiday, this seemed apropos….


Theme Park Etiquette

by admin on October 23, 2014

Having lived near several very popular theme parks over the past few years in various states, I encountered several situations that seemed like serious breaches of etiquette. I understand that theme parks are meant for people to let loose and have fun, but at some point, their misconduct impedes the enjoyment of the park for everyone else.

First: While waiting for a ride with a standard wait time of 30-45 minutes, the group in front of me lights up their cigarettes. The park has designated smoking areas throughout the park, but the people waiting in line insist on smoking in a confined space surrounded by many other guests. I asked them politely to put out their cigarettes, as the smell makes me and other people in my group nauseous, but only one out the three smokers puts out their cigarette, while one other smoker curses under his breath.

Second: At another park, I was on an indoor ride that had a few bumps, but nothing scary (little children were allowed to ride). To be silly, a couple of girls (14-16) decided that it would be fun to scream at the top of their lungs the ENTIRE ride. Riders missed out on some of the speaking parts of the ride, and being directly in front of them, my ears were ringing by the end. I understand screaming on the outdoor rollercoasters, but this was a confined space. I turned around and mentioned to the girls that it was rude to have screamed the whole time, and they probably ruined the ride for most of the people on the ride. It seems like a petty situation, but when you wait in line for an extended period of time for a 2 (or less) minute ride, you want to enjoy it!

Third: Every year I attend the special Halloween festivities set up a particular theme park. These festivities are geared towards adults—VERY gory haunted houses, people jumping out with chainsaws and yelling, serving volumes of alcohol, and having scantily clad women throughout the park—not to mention that the festivities only occur from 8pm-2am or so. First, I have a problem with parents bringing younger children to the park during these festivities (not really appropriate for anyone under 16), but that is their parental decision. My problem is when the parents bring large groups of teenage or pre-teen kids to the park and let them run crazy. I know that many kids are not so rude and disrespectful, but during the nighttime festivities, we had groups of 5-8 kids cutting their way through lines, and cursing out anyone who challenged them. On a few of the rides/haunted houses, employees managed to catch the kids and send them to the back, but this happened at least once in every single line. Many of the adults would not stand for the cutting, but their reactions and behavior demonstrated a complete lack of respect for decorum.

Remember—we all paid the same amount to get in, and we all want to have fun, but the line is 2 hours for everybody… Other people at the park have taken off work, traveled long distances, paid lots of money, and want to enjoy the day with their families and friends. There is no need to ruin everybody else’s visit for rude antics.

I know I am missing many other instances of bad theme park etiquette, but these left a distinctly negative impression on those theme park visits.     0916-10


The Seemingly Ungrateful Widow

by admin on October 22, 2014

I would like to hear other’s opinions on this matter.

Is a thank you card from a widow really that important?

Earlier this year, my cousin lost her husband in a boating accident. I am not very close to my extended family, but I sent her a card and a bit of money. As far as I was concerned, that was the end of it. However, a few weeks ago, my father called asking if I had received a thank you or any sort of acknowledgement as he had not heard from her. I told him that I had not, but that I wasn’t expecting anything either. My cousin has always sent out thank you notes/acknowledgements, but she has suddenly become a widow with two children under the age of ten and is dealing with an incredible life disruption. My father did not send her a large sum (just a little more than I sent), but tends to “play games” with money and I feel his feathers are ruffled unnecessarily. What are your thoughts?

I am certain we will see her and the kids during the holidays. Maybe she’ll say something then or maybe she won’t. Personally, I feel this is a mole hill becoming a mountain. 1015-14

I think your father is a legalist with no sense of grace or mercy.   Yes, it is true that etiquette encourages widows and widowers to send thank you notes to those offering their condolences, money, food, etc.  Your dad has gotten his shorts in a twisted wad because a recent widow hasn’t jumped through his etiquette hoops to his satisfaction.  He’s majoring on the minors and missed the larger picture of extending grace in an extremely difficult time to someone who desperately needs it.


Share The Party Love

by admin on October 21, 2014

I am absolutely flabbergasted at my friend’s response to a party invitation.

I learned that there will be a visible full lunar eclipse or “blood moon” this week, so I invited my friend Jenny over to watch it with me at my house and perhaps have a bit of dessert as well. She agreed to this and said she would bring a cake. Later that evening she messaged me and asked if it was girl’s only, and I replied that it was not, thinking she would bring her partner along.

I created a Facebook event so I would remind myself of the details and I invited 2 other friends. Unfortunately I didn’t save the settings properly and Jenny invited another 10 people! Including someone that I didn’t even know. I only found out because my partner happened to see it on Facebook and told me. I quickly changed the event to private and invite only, deleted the other invites before anyone saw them and messaged Jenny. I explained that I couldn’t accommodate that many people at my small house. She replied with “just sharing the love!”   I couldn’t believe that she would invite other people to someone else’s house! I have since cancelled the event and told her I got an extra shift at work. I am quite good friends with her partner but now I really want to cut her loose! I would like to remain friends with her partner as well, but this seems impossible given her self entitled behaviour. 1007-14

Yes, well, Jenny can “share” the love on her own time and her own place.  It was rude of her to assume your “love” was free for the giving to all her friends.


Book Give Away! “The Thanksgiving Table”

by admin on October 20, 2014

Thanksgiving is a month away and as it is one of the top holidays each year for entertaining, Ehell is beginning a month’s worth of contests to give away books that celebrate the art of hospitality!

This week’s book is “The Thanksgiving Table” by Diane Morgan.     Everything from the foolproof secret to a moist bird and how to truss and carve it to menu suggestions and simple, elegant table settings. Plus, recipes for classics like cranberry relish as well as more innovative dishes–and a whole section devoted to vegetarians. And maybe best of all, do-ahead tips and plenty of food and technique photographs to make planning in advance a breeze.

Rules:   Reply to this post to enter using a valid email address.   Entries close Friday, October 24th at 12 midnight EST.   Winner will be chosen at random using random.org’s random number generator.   Winner will be notified using the email address required to post a reply to this post. If winner’s email address is not functional, or the winner does not respond within 4 days, the book will awarded to another winner.   Some winners have lost out because the notification email from Ehell was directed to a spam folder or an obscurely used email account.


The Dissected Cat And Moral Relativism

by admin on October 20, 2014

Your recent Halloween submissions brought to my mind an incident that took place nearly twenty years ago but I still second guess myself on it.

When I was in college, I lived in a duplex. Our side had three women that shared the space and the other side had three men. One of my neighbors was in a premed comparative anatomy class with me where we were dissecting a cat, a shark, and a necturus (a mud-skipper type of amphibian). Our neighborhood was very trick or treat friendly and we always decorated our door and turned on the lights for the kids. Well, this particular year several groups of kids and parents started complaining about my neighbor’s door. He had taken the cat we were dissecting and hung it on the door!!!! It was horrible. He thought it was a grand idea. It was totally inappropriate on so many levels.

I removed it from his door and called the police. I didn’t even think twice about it. However I became shunned in our pre-med class and told that I over reacted. I was told I should have handled it in a quieter manner; that removing it from the door was enough. I disagreed then and still disagree, but I have always been rankled by the shunning that occurred. I thought it was completely disrespectful to the cat that lost it’s life so we could learn about anatomy and serve humanity, disrespectful to the kids, and disrespectful to the university and it’s property. It was just plain wrong and should not have been tolerated.

Should I have handled it differently? 1014-14

Did you call the police because the dissected cat was university property that your neighbor had “taken”?  It seems to me that the best person to contact the police would be the owner of the property who, once informed of the whereabouts of the taken property, can choose in what manner they wish to reacquire it.   Removing an actual carcass, regardless of how well preserved it is, from a doorway of a shared domicile, seems fine with me.

As for the shunning you received, I find it more fascinating that what defines bad taste to the point that severe peer pressure is applied has changed culturally in 20 years.   Hasn’t anyone ever wondered why gory, horrifying Halloween displays, both commercial and residential, have no scenes of animal torture or death?  Why not display rotted, gory horses, skinned buffalo carcasses or dogs hung by their legs with their fur burned off or hide flayed?  Why not skeletons of cats, cattle, baby lambs?  Or a pit bull fighting ring with some poor Chihuahua being the hapless bait dog?  There are haunted houses with over the top human butcher scenes but I doubt any have ever attempted to depict an actual abattoir.  I suspect the reason is that there is a greater perceived threat of being on the receiving end of severe community ire as well as animal rights activists if fake animals become part of the scene.

In the previous post on public Halloween decor, readers who defended the gory, horrific Halloween displays justified their positions that 1) it was all in good fun; 2)  tell your kids it’s fake; 3) you can’t shelter kids forever;  4) those of us who find it offensive are overreacting; 5) it’s a public space; and, 6) they can do what they want.   In a few cases,there was an almost arrogant superiority in having raised children to view these scenes as “fun”, as if being desensitized to human depravity at a tender young age was a good thing.    Why wouldn’t all these justifications also apply to animal oriented horror displays, or, for that matter, displays such as one reader mentioned in which the neighbor had hung dead black bodies from a tree with a confederate flag waving re-enacting a lynching scene?   It’s all in good “fun” after all, you can’t shelter the kids forever, it’s a public space and the home owner can do what it is they want…..unless you happen to put up a graveyard in your front yard that contains a certain tombstone.

Several homeowners in Oklahoma and Arizona placed fake tombstones in their front yards with the name “Obama/B.H. Obama” and a death date on them and the community outrage has gone viral with online comments and news media taking notice.   For the record, I believe putting the names of living people on a tombstone used for Halloween displays is in very poor taste.  But apparently what qualifies as “bad taste” changes according to how politically incorrect the decorations happen to be.

It appears that moral relativism, the concept that right or wrong are not absolutes but can be determined by each individual, factors heavily in how some people reading this blog and commenting decide whether a particular action is in bad taste or not.    Morals and manners can be altered from one situation, person, or circumstance to the next depending on each person’s beliefs.  And therein lies the problem.    If one action can be dismissed or justified as simply good, clean fun, but other actions of similar bad taste receive scorn and shunning, etiquette merely becomes a guilt manipulative tool to bludgeon others into either tolerating your own bad taste or agreeing with you that other people are behaving distastefully (while you are not).   I don’t like moral relativism on Etiquette Hell.   With the freedom to engage in a specific action comes the responsibility to not abuse that freedom.   What people do inside the privacy of their home or backyard is one thing entirely.   May they have the freedom to express themselves to the fullest. But when it goes “public” and thereby removes the freedom of choice one’s neighbor has to not view this, the responsibility to honor thy neighbor out of kindness takes precedence over personal preferences.


Feel Good Friday – Dueling Drum Lines

October 17, 2014

Music brings people together, even dueling drum lines. Click to share:

Read the full article →

When Decorations Echo A Gruesome Reality – Halloween Horror In Your Face

October 14, 2014

As a follow up to last week’s post regarding the scary, hairy dog spider prank and strangers being frightened by horrific scenes of death, today’s post will be about the escalation of horror images in public places as Halloween nears. Last year I was stunned when a younger member of my extended family pinned a […]

Read the full article →