Monthly Archives: May 2015

Lights up

I’m nervous. For the first time as an actor, I’m actually nervous beyond the garden variety “butterflies in the stomach” type of nervous.
By nature, I guess it’s understandable to be nervous in these sort of things, but really, this is the first time I come in with doubts as to whether I can still do this.
I love being a part of these projects, in whatever capacity I can. But, for the first time since I started these endeavors, it feels like I have that “has-been” or “never-will-be” status to my name. Do I have anything left? Did I ever have it to begin with? Do I have to prove anything, and if so, what?
This one isn’t just a matter of want. I need this one to go well. When I was a child, my mom wrote several screenplays. I don’t know if she knew how to sell herself, or if it was something else entirely, but it didn’t quite work out. Understandably, that can weigh heavily on anybody. But one gift she passed on to me was to try this, as crazy as I am in believing in it.
Coming back to my passion after a hiatus of almost a year is scary. But I welcome the butterflies. For me, I usually need at least one full show anyway to really shake off any nerves. It’s hard to explain, but there’s been a void that I’ve felt ever since the end of the musical in September 2013, knowing that I desperately want another chance to be good at something, anything. This is that something and anything.
I need this one, because this is one of the few places, perhaps even the only place, where I feel even remotely confident in myself.
I need this one because I need to feel whole again.
I need this one because on days where I need to get through the day, this provides it.
I need this one like some people need church. Some find religion, others find athletics. I found acting.
I need this one because I need a reason to believe that everything is going to be okay.
I need this one so I can show the world that this is how I pick myself back up. As great and prevalent as the support has been since July, there have been numerous rough days. This is my coping mechanism, my therapy if you will.
Mostly, though, I need this one to honor the ones I love- family, friends, whomever- who keep believing in me when I want to give up hope. So many people have been there to lend an ear or a shoulder, and bandaged my wounds, emotional and physical, over the years. Hopefully, I can reward their confidence in me. I need this one because this is the best way I know how of saying thank you.
The road back begins two weeks from today.

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Roger Maris: Keltner list

To see how the Keltner list works, refer to my previous post about Ken Boyer. This is another candidate.

Today’s candidate: Roger Maris

1. Was he ever regarded as the best player in baseball? Did anybody, while he was active, ever suggest that he was the best player in baseball?

For two seasons, he was, or he seemed to be. 1960 and 1961 were his MVP seasons, although he sacrificed average for power in the latter (although to be fair, it didn’t seem like it mattered to Ralph Houk one way or the other).

2. Was he the best player on his team?

It’s a hard argument to make in this case, because he played during the end of the Yankees dynasty era started under Casey Stengel. You could argue that Mickey Mantle was better in 1960, and he and Elston Howard would win MVP awards in subsequent years. I would also argue that the best player on the 1961 Yankees was Whitey Ford.

3. Was he the best player in baseball at his position? Was he the best player in the league at his position?

He was very underrated defensively, and in Game 7 of the 1962 World Series, made a clutch throw that prevented the tying run from scoring. With that said, it’s hard to call him the best. The frequent arguments about Maris is that aside from 1960 and 1961, he was good, but not great. You wouldn’t even call him very good, just good. League-wise, he probably was in the top five for right field.

4. Did he have an impact on a number of pennant races?

In 1964, it seemed like he was; without him, the Yankees would have lost the pennant. In 1960, it was also closer than expected, but still far enough to make it comfortable. He later played on two pennant winners in St. Louis, but he was nearing the end of his career and wasn’t a factor in either one.

5. Was he a good enough player that he could continue to play regularly after passing his prime?

I don’t think so. The hard part about this is that he peaked way too early. After 1962, when he was twenty-seven years old, he never made the All-Star team, and played in 140 or more games only once. He was slowed down by injuries, perhaps more so than Mantle.

6. Is he the very best player in baseball history who is not in the Hall of Fame?

Absolutely not. He was a .260 hitter, came to bat barely 5,000 times, and was a shell of his former self after 1962. Others are much better than he was.

7. Are most players who have comparable career statistics in the Hall of Fame?

It’s hard to make a comparison, because the only person who played in New York for such a small period of time was Don Mattingly, and Mattingly played first base and hit forty-seven points higher in his career. I have to say no on this, laregly because there’s nobody to compare him to in terms of position and career length.

8. Do the player’s numbers meet Hall of Fame standards?

How do you measure this? Based on all the criteria, no.

9. Is there any evidence to suggest that the player was significantly better or worse than is suggested by his statistics?

Incidentally, yes. Maris wouldn’t have hit 61 home runs without the short porch in Yankee Stadium. He played in Cleveland and Kansas City before coming to New York, and probably wanted to play in Kansas City for most of his career. Although he won several titles in New York, the stadium really helped him out. Additionally, expanding the season to 162 games in 1961 helped him with the home run chase.

10. Is he the best player at his position who is eligible for the Hall of Fame but not in?

No. I believe that Dick Allen is probably better as an outfielder, and Allen’s a questionable case, too.

11. How many MVP-type seasons did he have? Did he ever win an MVP award? If not, how many times was he close?

He won two consecutive MVPs in 1960 and 1961. When you check the numbers, though, his stats in 1960 weren’t all that impressive- .283 average, 39 home runs, and only 112 RBI (which did, to be fair, lead the league). Plus, Maris only played 136 games that year. It makes you wonder what his numbers would have been had he played twenty more games that year. After 1961, he finished 25th in MVP voting, and that was in 1964, a season where he didn’t make the All-Star team.

12. How many All-Star-type seasons did he have? How many All-Star games did he play in? Did most of the other players who played in this many go to the Hall of Fame?

Like Boyer, he played in the era where there were two All-Star games, so if you count those, he has seven. Without that benefit, he only has four All-Star seasons, and none after 1962. There have been players in with less, but those were in the early days of the All-Star Game, or they were pitchers.

13. If this man were the best player on his team, would it be likely that the team could win the pennant?

I don’t think he really was the best player on his team. He was an important player, but the only pennant race they would have needed him for was 1964.

14. What impact did the player have on baseball history? Was he responsible for any rule changes? Did he introduce any new equipment? Did he change the game in any way?

The home run record was his big impact, and for a while, he had the ignominy of the asterisk hanging over it. That wasn’t his fault, and it may be apocryphal now. The big thing that he was responsible for was the Decade of the Pitcher, where the officials raised the pitcher’s mound, causing averages to suffer.

15. Did the player uphold the standards of sportsmanship and character that the Hall of Fame, in its written guidelines, instructs us to consider?

If there were any off-field issues, most of them were created by the press. If there is anything that hurts Maris, it’s that he played a decade too late.

Analysis:

Maris only played twelve seasons. That’s barely over the minimum to be considered. Aside from his two MVP seasons, most of the time, he was an average player who had issues with the media (which I don’t blame him for; he was soft-spoken, and with the press corps becoming more iconoclastic, he could be a tragic hero in Greek mythology). So, Yankee fans, I’m sorry, and get ready to hate me: aside from those two great seasons, he simply didn’t play long enough, and when he did play, he wasn’t good enough.

I’ve lost my mojo.

Talking with several of my co-workers today, there’s something you don’t often think about, at least semantically: there’s a difference between celebrating a holiday and observing one. I tend to fall into the latter category ever since the age of about fifteen or so. With Memorial Day coming up, I am reminded of my maternal grandfather’s heroism, having fought during World War II in Italy. His claim to fame is that he was present for the public hanging of Benito Mussolini. I am always proud that he was willing to risk his life. He is much braver than I could ever hope to be.

At the same time, I’ve kind of lost my mojo for the holidays. This isn’t just about Memorial Day, either. You could say it generally. Part of it is that the magic of it has waned as I’ve gotten older, or perhaps I’ve become a little jaded about what it’s supposed to represent. I still like and celebrate Christmas and birthdays and such, but at the same time, I’d be perfectly content to sit around and do nothing. There can be some power in that.

Granted, certain holidays aren’t for me anyway. Thanksgiving was always overrated for me- I can understand the idea of it, but shouldn’t we be giving thanks every day? Plus, with my dietary issues, I couldn’t enjoy most of the food anyway. I still managed to eat something, but it’s not the same. And I can see my family, or talk to them at least, whenever I want to. I don’t know. I’ve just become more passive about these things. I’d rather enjoy the day without the spectacle of it, if you know what I mean.

I don’t mean to be sour grapes on this one. But somehow, celebrations have lost some of their luster.

Four weeks

The show is opening up four weeks from now. I’m nervous to see what I have in me. I think things have been coming along well enough, but there’s that little doubt in me that has crept up that wasn’t necessarily there before. Most of the people in the cast and crew I either know or have worked with before, or both, so I know they have my back. But it’s like being an athlete- how do you know what you’ve got in you? I would love for it to go well, but perhaps this is a good test for me. Can I still do it? I hope so. As we enter that final push of rehearsals, I find that as an old dog, I hope I have new tricks up my sleeve. Hoping for the best.

You can’t go home again

There was one thing I had yet to do to get some of closure: I had yet to visit my old neighborhood since we emptied out my mom’s house. It had been almost nine months since I had walked down my boyhood street. This is the longest period I had ever gone through without going there. The only thing that came close was when we lived in Antwerp from January-August 1994.

Without visuals, telling what I saw won’t have the same ring, but I’ll do my best.

The weather had been threatening all day, with rain going on and off. I probably should have waited, especially because I was battling a headache. For a location only two blocks away, I am a little surprised it took me this long. But I had planned on this, weather-permitting. I had to go back sometime.

My neighborhood is in a subdivision called Park Ridge. As far back as I can remember, it was divided into east and west quadrants. We lived on the west side, and although I lived in that house for over twenty years, I probably only visited the east side of the subdivision around seven or eight times. I had everything I needed on my own side. Our neighborhood park was only a block away from my house; take a left turn, head down into a cul-de-sac, and there you were. It had been a while since I had been there; I barely remembered there was a sidewalk on the other side of the street.

Somehow, I went back toward the park. How fast the world must change. There was all new playground equipment, including a yellow slide, and what looks like a pirate’s wheel done in purple. Additionally, the shelter that had been there was gone. I’m not sure whether they were removing it entirely or just reconfiguring the layout; the playground equipment was on the other side of the park. The basketball court had a new blacktop added in. I stopped by for a few minutes to see the changes. As I approached the court, I never realized how small the park on our side of Park Ridge was. The court is on a slight incline, and it’s almost a peninsula. It’s surrounded on three sides by apartments, housing, or bike paths. There’s a saying that goes that the world feels very small; this is one of the starkest examples I’ve seen. What I didn’t see, and hopefully it has not been removed for good, was the tire swing.

I continued on, took a deep breath, and took a right onto my old street. Most of what I remembered was still there. My house was also on an incline, so we really didn’t have much of a front yard. We had a little hill and stairs that led to the front door (with more stairs to get there) on one side, surrounded by a gravel driveway in the middle. On the other side was a small strip of grass, with a telephone pole right on the edge. We used that as the unofficial dividing line between our yard and our neighbors’. What I remember is our mailbox having shrubbery growing out of the bottom and the side. I’m not entirely sure if this was done purposely, or if they weren’t able to cut it down for risk of ruining the mailbox. Still, as I walked along the left side of the road, opposite my house, that part was still there. But as I went down the hill on my street, I saw what I was hoping not to see. Tarpaulin covered the top side of the house. Granted, the house was from the 1920s, but I didn’t think they would remodel it that much. The top two stairs had new wooden railings. I was heartbroken to discover that the trees along the side of the house with the telephone pole had been removed. The one that I was saddest about was the staircase leading to the backyard. This one was the saddest because it was the most personal thing to me. When I was a little boy, probably under five, I helped my dad build the deck that led to the stairs. From what I saw, it looked like they were keeping it, but using new wood to replace it, and also making it longer. The world must move forward. I saw cars in the driveway, so hopefully the people that now live there will have the happiness that we had for twenty-plus years. And I hope they don’t think I was meaning to intrude. I am not angry at them, nor will I be. I welcome them all the happiness in the world. But there’s something about your childhood home that they can’t take away from you. It’s as if my life was contained within those walls.

Obviously, I didn’t go inside, or even cross the street to the driveway. I didn’t want to be a nuisance to them. I also wasn’t able to see into the backyard, so I’m not sure what is left. We had a small “woods,” albeit used very loosely in this sense (it was basically a shady tree and a hammock), and another one that led toward the kitchen. There was a little clearing that led behind the houses. I explored that clearing once when I was about seven or eight, and I was terrified of what it would bring, especially because there was a fence on one side.  For some reason, I always interpreted that as “keep out.” But the only thing that happened is that I ended up on the other side of another neighborhood backyard. I could probably take that same route, assuming the rain hasn’t washed a lot of it out, and it would probably be a walk in the park. I wanted to see the backyard, just to see it. But I knew it wouldn’t be right. If I ever do get a chance to see it, I hope they kept one of the trees, assuming that it’s healthy enough to keep. The tree that was closer to the house was always at risk of being struck down by lightning and potentially causing major damage. I think we had at least two others in front of that clearing, but one was brought down by lightning, and it took us forever to get it out of there.

I didn’t know what to expect when I walked down Lexington Drive again. Part of me thought I’d burst into tears, part of me thought I’d be calmer. Ultimately, the calmer side won out. Still, there’s a bittersweet symphony about going into your old neighborhood for the first time since the incident. Seeing the changes was both reassuring and jarring, because both feelings confirmed what I probably knew but didn’t want to admit: it wasn’t my home anymore. It always will be my childhood home, but at the same time, it’s not mine anymore. It feels weird to know that somebody is using my old room for other purposes. I hope that if the people who are there have kids, that one of them will get my old room.

I’m glad that it’s being upgraded, renovated, whatever you want to call it. The basement was in dire straits- when we were moving out her books, clothes, etc., we actually couldn’t wear short pants down there because fleas had begun to gather, and we also had to wear masks due to mildew concerns. We found spores on many of our old childhood toys; in fact, during the last few years of her life, my mom’s financial situation was so dire that she had very few clothes to live in because her washer/dryer broke down and she couldn’t afford to fix it. I hope that those things are able to be fixed. Still, I hope they don’t change it too much. Change is good, but sometimes the reluctance is not in the change itself but how rapidly it occurs. My aunt says that the woman who is now living in the house is doing well, and can find a good way to fix it up. This makes me happy. And in a nice way, I was told she’s a writer, like my mom had been. If she does read this, thank you for keeping the spirit of the written word alive. Please take good care of the house.

Even if it wasn’t what I expected, I’m glad I took this walk today. I needed it for a peace of mind, to know that it’s okay to move on, or at least as much as I can. And unfortunately, it looks like the saying is true in this case: you can’t go home again. But I wasn’t trying to come home. It’s as if I needed to say goodbye, so to speak. I hope this isn’t a final goodbye.

After I walked further up the road, I took a right back onto Third Street, passed by the car dealership and the gas station, then went to Barnes and Noble to read for a little bit. It was a short, sweet sojourn, as it should be. Now, I am in my current home- my apartment, two and a half blocks (approximately) from my boyhood home.

Perhaps I finally understand another adage: Wherever you go, there you are. Regardless of what happens, I am here. I am safe. I am warm (or cold, depending on the season). For the time being, I am home. And right now I can’t ask for anything more.

If April showers bring May flowers….

Again, it’s time to play that crazy guessing game that is known as Indiana weather. Last week, it was really humid and we got plenty of sun. In fact, it was so nice, they did IU’s graduation ceremony outdoors, although that’s largely due to renovations of the usual space, rather than the weather itself.

So far this week, we’ve had a couple of breezy moments sweep through (largely yesterday), and what’s left over today is largely the residue of an overnight rain shower. Rain re-emerged as I was walking home from work today, and since I either don’t use an umbrella or don’t have good luck when I do, I usually end up soaked. I avoided most of it, and now I’m comfortably in the school’s computer lab writing to you before I do my other things tonight (i.e. rehearsal).

There’s a running joke that only in Indiana can you go from snow boots to sandals in the same week. I won’t get into any potential political arguments here, but even for us, you have to admit having high humidity in May isn’t entirely the best thing.

As previously mentioned, Belgium gets approximately 210 days of rain per year. A lot of times, it’s just a passing sprinkle, but I’ll tell you, when it wants to, it can come down. It’s ironic in the fact that I can get used to rain in a place where I haven’t been in five years (albeit not for lack of trying), and yet I can’t get used to the humidity in a place where I’ve spent most of the first twenty-eight years of my life- well, technically, twenty-seven years and eleven months, but who’s counting?

April may be over, but it seems like a part of it is still fighting back to maintain its existence. Months pass by, as they must, but you wonder what they would feel if they were able to.

Summer may not be here yet, but it’s creeping closer and closer every day.

My heartfelt congratulations

Although I’ve been out of college for four years, I have friends that are graduating today. Most of these friends come through theatre and film, but it does vary a little bit.

I’ll keep it as short as I can:

Congratulations, dear friends. I hope to see all of you again soon. It’s always hard to say goodbye, but sometimes, it’s an inevitability. But I know you’ll all do great things. The world continues to move forward.

Celebrate, class of 2015. You deserve it, and my heartfelt congratulations.

Let’s try this again

This is a second attempt at loading potential photos to say thank you. Let’s hope this works as its own post, rather than a separate tab.

If you like my posts, thank you very much.
If you like my posts, thank you very much.

Update: it looks like it worked. Hooray! I’m not that tech savvy, so you’ll forgive me if I’m asking obvious questions like this one. I’m still figuring it out.

So, once again, thank you to everybody who reads these random and occasionally pointless thoughts of mine. And sorry to waste a post on something this trivial.

Another thumbs up for actually getting it right!
Another thumbs up for actually getting it right.

Happiness/comfort, and vice versa

Somehow, life has been good right now. I’m not sure if it’s mistaking comfort for happiness as it is the other way around- maybe happiness is mistaken for comfort. There’s a saying that where I grew up, even if you leave, you don’t stay away forever. Largely, this is for economic reasons, but still, even for a college town of 80,000 (and the word “town” is probably used incorrectly here), there is a certain charm to it. But there is a comfort in knowing that where you grew up will almost always be there for you. It may change, but it’s still there. It’s not like you just push it out of your life.

Granted, sometimes things change rapidly, and not every day is going to be a walk in the park. But surprisingly, for an event of this magnitude- that is, my mom’s passing- things have been surprisingly easier than I expected, or at least since mid-February. Granted, this has been with a lot of help. But perhaps it’s the fact that you have something to chase that keeps you going. And hopefully, it will be a successful chase.

Fingers crossed.

Another top 10 list- analysis of Are You Afraid of the Dark?

My top ten list for episodes of Are You Afraid of the Dark? For those who don’t know, this was an old Nickelodeon show that would tell scary stories. And there were some great episodes. And yes, I am taking this directly from my rankings list previously posted (see my previous post “Ranking every episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark?”) This list is entirely my opinion, and like the last one, SPOILER ALERT.
10. The Tale of the Ghastly Grinner (Season 4)
A lot of people may be upset this is even higher. Well, to tell you the truth, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to put it on this list in the first place. It’s a scary episode, but I can’t call it one of my favorites, and it’s barely in here. Perhaps it’s the fact that I can’t get into the comic book medium, or the fact that the two leads are bland and rather annoying, particularly the clichéd “nerdy girl,” Hooper. Basically, this episode features a teenager named Ethan who wants to be a comic book artist, but they won’t take him seriously because he’s a kid. He finds a comic book from a woman named Ms. Uncas, who we later find out is the daughter of the artist who created the Ghastly Grinner. Once the Grinner comes to life, it’s up to Ethan, Uncas’ daughter, and Hooper to save the day. This is a scary episode, but the characters don’t really do much for me, so that’s why it’s #10.
9. The Tale of the Silent Servant (Season 4)
This is a pretty underrated episode, and I’m surprised more people don’t have it in their top ten. Perhaps it’s the idea that a scarecrow isn’t technically alive, or that the boy character is somewhat of a jerk (which he is), but there’s something about scarecrows, man. Don’t mess with them. After finding an old trinket on a farm, cousins Anne and Jared have differing views on how to use it. Jared, baseball fan that he is, exploits the scarecrow for labor and then a dugout using the same boards. Once the scarecrow goes after Jared’s uncle, they find that they need Anne’s courage to get them through. And underneath all this is Crazy George, a farmhand who’s telling tall tales…or does he know more than he’s telling? A good ending backs up a good episode.
8. The Tale of the Silver Sight (Season 7)
Technically, this a three-part, unofficial ninety minute “movie,” but I’m counting it as one episode. The seventh and last season was somewhat of a dud, but at least this story had some good mystery to it. Gary, the leader of the Midnight Society in the first five seasons, awakes from a nightmare involving his grandfather, Gene, only to find out the nightmare is real and Gene has died of a heart attack. Tucker, the current leader of the Midnight Society and Gary’s brother, gathers up the current members and Gary tells the story of the Silver Sight, an evil charm with black magic used by Gene and his friends, the first Midnight Society. As each member tries to find the charm and destroy it, they are visited by an omniscient waif boy. Meanwhile, the only surviving member of the first society, Laing Candle, attempts to find the charm on his own. It’s a race to find each piece of a record, and the last clue, “know your true enemy,” ends up setting up a thrilling climax in the end.
7. The Tale of the Wisdom Glass (Season 6)
One of the better episodes of the last two seasons sees two kids, one spoiled, one middle class, form an unlikely bond, albeit over stealing a computer game known as Wisdom. It turns out that the world is inhabited with creepy judges (with a really creepy mask) and various clown-like characters, and in the world of wisdom, stealing is a capital offense. Originally, the middle class kid is set to be executed for his crime, for as the judge says, “The judgment of the Wisdom Glass must be carried out!” As the other one is prepared to run, his valet Trevor says that he should go back for his friend. After the Glass is almost shattered, you think that the kids are going to be the heroes. It turns out, however, that Trevor the valet turns around…and he’s the judge! Let this be a lesson to you kids out there: stealing is bad.
6. The Tale of the Pinball Wizard (Season 1)
This was the first season finale, and it’s a dandy. This is another episode that doesn’t have a happy ending, and it’s all the creepier for it. I will say that this is the first real episode where you don’t root for the protagonist, because of his selfishness. Ross is a kid who doesn’t have a lot of friends, and spends most of his time playing video games and/or pinball (a running joke of the episode is that they use them interchangeably; remember this is 1992). He tries to talk himself into a job with Mr. Olson, who owns what appears to be an antiques store, but Ross’ irresponsibility is a red flag. After Mr. Olson gives him a chance to prove himself with specific orders not to touch the pinball machine (which, of course, Ross ignores), Ross soon finds himself in an adventure that is basically a direct plot of the pinball game he is playing. After struggling to find the throne and tiara necessary to crown the princess, Ross is able to vanquish the villains and apparently wins the game. Soon after, however, he finds himself back at the ground floor of the mall, instead of back at the antique shop. He claims he’s won, but it turns out Mr. Olson has some black magic in him that has trapped Ross inside the pinball machine forever. I still think about this episode to this day.
5. The Tale of the Crimson Clown (Season 3)
Admittedly, this could be lower, because the story isn’t all that great, and it features a really bratty kid as the lead, but this is in the top five because it did its job- scared the ever-loving you-know-what out of us as kids. That clown face gave me nightmares for weeks after that. So, instead of commenting on the episode itself, I’ll let you guys watch this one on your own to figure out what I’m talking about.
4. The Tale of the Captured Souls (Season 1)
This is a good “lesson” episode, about the power of genetics and science and how it can be misused. In essence, Danny (or Danielle, as her host Peter calls her, much to her annoyance) and her family go on a family vacation. They are the only guests, and their host is an ashen boy named Peter. At first, things go smoothly. But it turns out Peter is a mad scientist who uses mirrors and lighting to suck the life force out of parents, children, and pets to preserve his own youth. You can tell something is up when he refuses to have his picture taken. As Danny is able to avoid the mirrors, she attempts to save her parents before Peter takes their youth forever. When she finally traps him in his own machine, she is able to reverse the process. The episode, although scary, ends rather poignantly, with a photograph of Peter at his current age (probably around ninety) looking “sad and strange,” and Peter acknowledging his own mortality.
3. The Tale of Laughing in the Dark (Season 1)
This is the second episode ever of the series, and oh man, did it get the series going. Not only is it scary, and has a good story, but it introduced the most iconic character in the series- Zeebo the Clown. It also reinforces the frightening nature of carnivals, and to a lesser extent, the barkers. After teasing his friends Weegee and Kathy, a kid named Josh is dared to go into the funhouse where Zeebo supposedly lives. The urban legend says that Zeebo, a small-time criminal, burned to death by losing a lit cigar in the funhouse. To prove he did it, Josh promises to take Zeebo’s nose, which he succeeds in doing. Zeebo, of course, insists on having his nose back, and taunts Josh until he gives it back, with some cigars thrown in for good measure. Although not directly stated, it’s also implied that the barker running the funhouse is Zeebo’s ghost. Many consider this their favorite AYAOTD episode. Still, I have to put two of them higher.
2. The Tale of the Dead Man’s Float (Season 5)
This is the fifth season premiere, and arguably the scariest episode of the entire series. The only reason it’s not number one is because the story is a little too easy for my liking. The way that the Midnight Society sets up their initiations is that a potential new member must be unanimously voted in. Stig, the potential member, is disliked by everybody except Tucker, however. This is probably why he doesn’t get in right away (they give him another chance in another episode). Basically, the story is such: a boy drowns in a local pool, as do three more people. They close it down and attach it to a high school. A nerdy kid named Zeke offers to tutor a classmate, Clorice, in exchange for swimming lessons. As they bond, they find that the pool is haunted by a spirit from a leftover burial mound. They are saved by Charlie, the lifeguard of the pool when it first opened. Clorice uses her athletic ability, combined with Zeke’s knowledge of chemical compounds, to expose the spirit and defeat it once and for all. This episode is a classic for its sheer terror it put in young kids. This could be #1 on many lists, but there’s one more I have to rank higher….

1. The Tale of Old Man Corcoran (Season 2)
This is the finale of Season 2, and my personal favorite. What I love about this episode is that it takes a potentially safe and dull premise, and makes it dangerous, especially because it involved kids. Also, I remember watching this episode live when I was six years old. And boy, did I learn what a twist ending was from this episode. Two brothers, Jack and Kenny, are recruited by the neighborhood kids to join them in a game of hide-and-seek. At first, it seems relatively tame, until they discover that the kids play in a graveyard. Additionally, the graveyard comes with its own legend, as told by one of the kids. The legend says that the ghost of Old Man Corcoran, the groundskeeper, is still haunting the grounds. The only mark left is the blowing of his harmonica. At first, Jack and Kenny seem to enjoy playing the game, until they run into Old Man Corcoran and run away. Still, the other kids invite them back, although they must be “It” together. Instead of playing hide-and-seek, however, the boys decide to steal the harmonica to prove Corcoran’s ghost is real. They succeed in doing this, although Corcoran catches them. After they run into Marshall, the leader of the kids, Corcoran approaches them and takes back his harmonica. As he asks them what they’re doing, they explain that they are playing hide-and-seek. Corcoran wonders if they are alone. When Kenny names off the kids, Corcoran scolds them for being rude. And then the twist is revealed: the kids are the ghosts, and he is alive. As he explains, he dug all the graves himself. The last shot is the boys looking back at Marshall’s headstone, and Corcoran asking them if they’ve seen a ghost. The fog rolls over the kids’ graves and the episode ends. I don’t know what else to say. It’s just brilliant.