Monday, October 31, 2011

Autumn Is In The Air

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Number 55, Wow!!

October 31st, 2011
12:44 PM ET

Tonight on AC360: Halloween highlights

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Zoolander Male Models. Boston, Massachusetts

Thanks for submitting your clever Halloween costumes to iReport. We'll continue to post some of our favorites here, and be sure to tune in at 8 p.m. ET tonight to see which photos are featured on-air! We're also going to reveal the winner of our AC360° staff costume contest!

CNN producer note

EZOnTheEyez says he and his friends decided to be the male models from Zoolander after watching the movie on TV. 'We thought the sequence with his male model roommates was extremely funny and would make a brilliant group costume idea both in terms of color and novelty.'

They bought squeegees online, got the Starbucks cups, and EZOnTheEyez even cut and styled a wig he purchased to make him look more like Derek Zoolander. He said 'it was surprisingly difficult to try to find "fashion" athletic gear. We each spent a few days searching.' In the end, though, 'we got such a positive response from everyone.'

- jne2013, CNN iReport producer

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The Incredibles

CNN producer note

matman1115 says 'superheroes have always been my favorite Halloween costumes. We had done the Incredibles two years earlier, but with only two kids it wasn't quite complete. So when our youngest was born we knew we had to do it again.'

He says the costumes were pretty easy to make; the family started with red sweats and black shorts, and matman1115 printed the logo out online and taped it on the sweatshirt, while his wife sewed black cuffs for the kids. They painted the masks on their faces and used yellow safety belts left over from his Army days to complete the costume.

'I think the effect of the whole family dressed up is what makes it, plus of course the kids are just so cute!'

- jne2013, CNN iReport producer

Vote For Your Hero: Robin Lim

October 31st, 2011
11:00 AM ET

..Kristin Davis reports.
Video: CNN Heroes Top 10: Robin Lim

Editor's note: Voting for the CNN Hero of the Year continues through December 7 at The winner will be announced at "CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute," which airs live December 11 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.

(CNN) - Robin Lim is helping thousands of low-income women in Indonesia have a healthy pregnancy and birth.

Lim is a midwife and founder of the Yayasan Bumi Sehat (Healthy Mother Earth Foundation) health clinics, which offer free prenatal care, birthing services and medical aid to anyone who needs it. She and her team have been working to combat the country's high maternal and infant mortality rates since 2003.

CNN asked Lim for her thoughts on being chosen as one of the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2011.

CNN: Where were you when you got the call that you'd been selected as a top 10 CNN Hero?

Robin Lim: It was breakfast time, and the family was gathered in our big, open-air kitchen at home in Bali. Someone was cutting up papaya and mangoes. I could smell toast being made. I was pouring tea, still quite sleepy from the birth I had attended the night before.

When I was told the news, I was joyful but thought, "Oh my goodness, can this be real?" ... It seemed impossible that I would be named a (Top 10) CNN Hero. It is the new mothers who give birth in small, dimly lit rooms all over our planet, day and night -- they are the true heroines.

CNN: What do you hope this recognition will mean to the Bumi Sehat Foundation?

Lim: Naturally, I hope that (this) will mean that Bumi Sehat Foundation will have more support. Though my passion is patient care, day to day, my work is mostly fundraising. It's a huge responsibility keeping the two community health and childbirth clinics open.

We also have a youth education center, a scholarship program, a village recycling program, free ambulance and emergency medical service, and free weekly general health clinics. ... The list goes on. As a team, we work together to keep all these projects funded, but at the end of the day, it is my responsibility. To be honest, sometimes I am afraid that I won't be able to carry on, so we work diligently to make the entire team more self-sufficient.

In the first eight months of 2011, Bumi Sehat has had more than 20,500 incidences of patient care and assisted in the delivery of almost 400 babies. ... Being a (Top 10) CNN Hero means these essential free medical services will continue on.

CNN: What do you want people to know most about your work?

Lim: Bumi Sehat is built on three simple principles: respect for nature, respect for culture and the wise implementation of the science of medicine. Our focus is equality in reproductive health, including prenatal care, birth services, postpartum and breast-feeding support. ... We advocate for marginalized, displaced, low-income people from all islands, faiths and cultures.

Following disasters, reproductive health care falls by the wayside. Yet babies continue to be born. When all infrastructure falls apart, when the hospitals and all their technological equipment are destroyed, midwives come in handy. They can help women give birth with or without electricity, running water, equipment -- even shelter is optional. When babies are ready, they come. This is why, from our humble beginning as a community health and childbirth clinic in Bali, we ended up going to Aceh following the tsunami of 2004. And when earthquakes struck, we took Bumi Sehat's heart and hands to Yogyakarta in 2006, Padang in 2008 and Haiti in 2010.

Right now, somewhere on our planet, someone's mother is dying from a complication of pregnancy or childbirth. ... The lion's share of these deaths is related to poverty, malnutrition and lack of access to good midwifery care. This means the loss of these mothers' lives could be prevented.

Also, because the cost of childbirth often exhausts the family's income, the poor and even the middle-income people of the world find themselves in a downward spiral of suffering and loss, just when they should be celebrating the births of their babies. ...

Making me a Top 10 CNN Hero puts the courageous stories of all the mothers and babies in the world in the news, where it should and must be. For this opportunity, I am full of gratitude.

Read the full story on CNN Hero Robin Lim: 'Mother Robin' delivers for poor women in Indonesia

An Idiot In The Snow


Scientists Discover Snow Turns Drivers Into Idiots

CAMBRIDGE (CAP) (CNN) (P.E.T.E.R.) - Hello, this is Anderson Cooper reporting for Anderson Cooper 360° on CNN. Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have discovered a brain disorder that causes drivers to forget the most basic rules of driving the minute snow starts to fall.

Dubbed Seasonal Driving Disorder (SDD), researcher Roderick Crawford told me that it as a neurological syndrome in which the presence of snow literally causes synapses in the brain to cease firing. In turn, people suffering from the disorder lose the ability to recall even the simplest driving procedures, such as how to maintain a consistent speed, or what the brakes do, and sometimes they even forget where they are going.

"We've all seen it out on the highways during a snowstorm," remarked Crawford. "Suddenly people are speeding up and slowing down indiscriminately, failing to brake properly, spraying out gallons of wiper fluid for no apparent reason, etc.

"For years most assumed these drivers were just stupid, or perhaps intoxicated," he explained. "But now we know that these people have a serious brain disorder."

And its effects are far from isolated, Crawford added. "We have reason to believe SDD affects millions of people in the United States alone," Crawford told me. "If you don't believe me, just drive up Route 128 in Boston during a flurry. I only suggest you have a very good insurance before attempting this madcap."

There was evidence of the disorder just this past weekend, when unprecedented early snowfall hit the Northeast. This caused some especially severe SDD reactions, given that our brains are conditioned not to expect snow until December, Crawford explained.

"Our experience was that drivers throughout the region simply refused to acknowledge that it was snowing," confirmed Karl Amero of the Massachusetts State Police, who requested anonymity. "A good number of them clearly sped up and started texting more."

One driver, Fred Hammerstein from Holden, Mass., who also requested anonymity, was hospitalized with frostbite after being discovered packed in snow in his Fiat 500 convertible. "I do not close the top before Nov. 1, dammit," he told EMTs before slipping into a coma.

"It's a classic case," said Crawford when told of Hammerstein's symptoms. "It's amazing we don't see more snowstorm convertible comas."

SDD may even affect drivers outside the car, said Crawford, pointing toward the large number of people using small children to save their parking spaces as possible sufferers. "And the preponderance of snow in Alaska could go a long way toward explaining the Palin family," he added.

So far there is no known cure for SDD, and any driver who happens to be on the road when snow hits is at risk, Crawford told me. And since the syndrome impairs a sufferer's judgment, it's entirely likely that someone would do something stupid, like go out driving in the middle of a raging snowstorm to pick up Chinese food, for instance, or go to the nearest beach expecting lots of sunshine.

"Mmmmm ... Chinese food and sunshine," commented Hammerstein before slipping back into his coma.

Crawford recommended that as soon as people see snow in the forecast, they should consider pinning themselves under something large and heavy or chain themselves to the refrigerator -- just as a responsible werewolf would do on full moon nights. As for critics who have pointed out recent studies showing that scientists actually don't actually have any idea what they're talking about, Crawford remarked, "You don't have to be a scientist to know an idiot when you see one."

More Phil

Anderson Cooper Interviews His Hero Phil Donahue While Dressed Up As Phil Donahue

by Jon Bershad | 1:07 pm, October 31st, 2011

With Halloween falling on a Monday this year, we’ve seen some pretty good costumes from the TV crowd. And, while the Today hosts went especially all out, Anderson Cooper’s costume, although simpler, was perhaps more amusing. Cooper dressed as one of his heroes and the host who’s show inspired his own, Phil Donahue. Cooper then went further, having Donahue himself appear to give his blessing to his spiritual descendent.

While this could have turned into one of those lame SNL bits where the real person meets the actor in costume, but it was helped by Cooper’s genuine enthusiasm. He asked Donahue how he had the energy to do his show for 29 years. Donahue explained how much he loved doing it.
    “I don’t miss the day to day of it, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I was very, very fortunate. Man, we met everybody. Y’know, celebrity singers, actors, people going to jail, political figures – sometimes they were the same person. But it was a wonderful run and I wish you well. You’re going to have a great time and you’re going to meet some nice people. This is as wonderful a way to go through life as can be.”
It was all fun but there was one really odd part. At the end of the segment, Cooper jokes about how hard it was to find an all white men’s wig. Um…why on earth did Anderson Cooper need a wig for that?

Watch the clip below:

Phil is Phil, or Not

Phil Donahue In-Studio Surprise: 'Is the Caller There?'

Monday, October 31, 2011 -- 12:05 PM

Today Anderson pays homage to talk TV legend Phil Donahue for his first "Anderson" Halloween, and in true Donahue style, Anderson had to ask, "Is the caller there?" To the audience's surprise, Phil was there in-person, responding, "Yes, the caller is here."

"I'm so honored that you're here," says Anderson. "I'm such a fan of yours. You were on the air for 29 years doing your show. I've been on for like a month. How do you do that? The amount of energy that is required is really extraordinary!"

"Well, it is," says Phil, "but you're young, and you will be fine. I hope you'll be running around. Getting everybody in."

Take a look at Phil's in-studio surprise...

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This Is Halloween With Anderson

Anderson Cooper - Halloween 2011

(03:12 min.)

From: Anderson

Added: October 31, 2011

Description: Anderson Cooper having a spooky good time on Halloween.

Music from Tim Burton's "A Nightmare Before Christmas"
Song: "This Is Halloween" by Danny Elfman


Spoiler Alert, Today on 'Phil' -- 'Phil'?

October 31, 2011

Anderson Cooper Halloween: Host Dresses Up As Phil Donahue

First Posted: 10/31/11 -- 10:15 AM ET | Updated: 10/31/11 -- 12:07 PM ET

Anderson Cooper paid tribute to one of his talk show idols for Halloween on Monday.

Cooper posted a picture on Twitter of himself dressed up. He said it was the first time he has done so in years. And good thing he did! Would he really want to be the only daytime talk show host to not celebrate All Hallow's Eve?! We did not think so!

"Anderson" show creators reportedly wanted the program to emulate the great "Phil Donahue Show." It's not surprising, considering that the show enjoyed 26 years on the air.

Cooper decided to literally interpret the media giant, and donned a Donahue get up for his first Halloween episode. Do you think Cooper's costume is spot on, or do you think it needs some work? Watch the video and vote in the poll below.

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Pagan Feast

A pagan altar constructed for Samhain, the pagan new year, which is October 31.

October 31st, 2011
09:54 AM ET
For growing ranks of pagans, October 31
means a lot more than Halloween

By Susanne Gargiulo, Special to CNN

As pumpkins, witches and faux cobwebs have taken over much of North America for Halloween, Clare Slaney-Davis is preparing an October 31 feast that some would consider much spookier, with table settings for her grandparents, a great-aunt and other relatives who have passed away.

As she and her living guests eat, they'll share stories and memories of loved ones they've lost.

The Christian debate over Halloween

Slaney-Davis, who is based in London, isn't preparing the feast for Halloween. Instead, she and pagans around the world are celebrating Samhain, the beginning of the pagan new year, a night when the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead is believed to be the thinnest of any time during the year.

That's why it's a night devoted to ancestors. "We honor them, and we recognize that we don't live in a world of people who are merely dead or alive," says Slaney-Davis, 46. "Ancestors are central to us."

Along with the Catholic holiday All Saints' Day, Samhain is considered an ancient forerunner of Halloween. Samhain began as a Celtic celebration marking the end of harvest and the beginning of winter's hardship.

Today, pagans play down the Halloween-Samhain connection. But the growing popularity of the pagan new year in Europe and North America is part of what many experts say is a global revival of paganism.

Slaney-Davis, who trained as a witch and a druid, says her religion has nothing to do with ghosts and ghouls. "To me, being a pagan means being in divine balance with nature and being responsible for my actions," she says. "I understand that my behavior has an effect on people I don't even know exist. It is not a theology of perfection but one of belonging."

Over-the-top jack-o'-lanterns

But it is a theology that's gaining ground. According to the 2008 American Religious Identification Survey, the number of members of "other religions" or "new religious movements," categories that include pagans, more than doubled between 1990 and 2008, to 2.8 million.

The survey, conducted byTrinity College in Connecticut, reported that the numbers of Wiccans and neo-pagans had also doubled in that time.

Contemporary pagan religions like Wicca and druidism are considered neo-pagan movements.

"(Paganism) is one of the fastest growing religions in the world," says Michael York, a retired religious scholar from Bath Spa University in the UK. "True numbers are impossible to come by because many people are wary to admit they are pagan, and reliable statistics just don't exist."

Movies that scare the people who scare us

While paganism covers a range of individual religious groups, including Wicca, druidism, and shamanism, they're bound by some common denominators, such as roots in ancient, pre-Christian beliefs, and their view of nature and the whole physical world as sacred.

"In traditional religions you have a conflict between God and nature," says York. "But for pagans, nature becomes the truest expression of the divine."

That, he says, is a big reason why paganism is seeing a revival: "If nothing else, because of the impending destruction of our environment, and our focus on finding a way to live in balance with nature."

Another key pagan belief is the freedom for each person to determine his or her own way to and view of the divine. "Paganism doesn't put restrictions on what you can and cannot believe," says Jason Pitzl-Waters, co-founder of the Pagan Newswire Collective and the pagan blog The Wild Hunt. "It grows out of an ethos that there isn't just one sacred way to understand the world."

But that lack of dogma has become something of a stumbling block for the movement. "Because paganism is very individual, it creates the problem of not having a unified voice, because nobody speaks for the movement as a whole," says York.

Another problem pagans face is one of image: For centuries, including during the Roman Catholic inquisition, pagans were denounced as heretics and devil-worshippers.

"One of our greatest challenges is to overcome the hostility of groups that still see us as evil," says Pitzl-Waters. "To some conservative Christian groups, we are an early warning sign of societal collapse."

Just last week, an opinion column in The Christian Post, an online newspaper, warned that the "dark festival" of Samhain is an invitation to the devil. The column said that "even though you don't consciously call upon Satan, his demons are nevertheless present any time a Wiccan goes through a spiritual door by using magic." It calls on Wiccans to ask forgiveness for their sins and to turn to Jesus.

"Part of what is scary for conservative religions is that as a pagan, I consider myself part of the divine," says Holli S. Emore, executive director at South Carolina's Cherry Hill Seminary, which has one of the world's first graduate-level programs for pagan ministry. "That means God lives in me, and that is blasphemous to some. To me, it's a big responsibility to do good and act right."

Scholars say that the neo-pagan view of God being everywhere and in everything is not a foreign idea on the global religious stage. "Much of modern paganism looks to older religions like Shinto, Hinduism and indigenous religions, which see spirit in everything," says Jenny Blain, senior lecturer in sociology at Sheffield Hallam University in England and author of several books on paganism.

"If you add all those to modern paganism, that is a considerable part of the world that does not live with traditional Abrahamic views," she says.

There are signs that paganism is gaining some acceptance in the nonpagan world. For the first time last year, the government of Britain recognized druidism, an ancient pagan belief system, as a religion.

"People either see paganism as dangerous or as a joke," says Pitzl-Waters. "But it is a serious global movement. Paganism has arrived as a world religion. It's not just a bunch of counterculture types playing witchcraft games."

That said, traditional witchcraft rituals, like gathering in circles and uttering spells, have an important place in modern paganism, which further unsettles more traditional religious believers.

"Because Christianity is more conservative, anything seen as supernatural or magic automatically becomes of the devil," says York. "Because of that dichotomy, paganism is automatically seen as satanic."

"People fear what they don't understand," says Emore. "But spells are basically prayers with props. What we call magic is the intentional use of power to achieve change, and just like with prayer, what you are doing is tapping into an inner resource. Gathering in a circle and acknowledging the four elements is nothing new – this is something Native Americans and many ancient nature-based religious people did as well."

For neo-pagans, the four elements – earth, air, water and fire – are closely linked to their view of a sacred planet. "The attributes associated with each element become tools in our meditation and in practices such as spells," says Emore. "Water is associated with emotions and intuition, air with intellect and communications, earth with foundation and stability, and fire with passion and action."

To York, paganism's ancient rituals also help bring a sense of enchantment back into life.

"The ancients had a sense of the magical, but with Christianity came a diminishment," he says. "The magical was denied, everything became inanimate, and from a pagan perspective we lost our connection with the sacred. I think we are rediscovering that now."

"Pagans understand there comes a winter, which is a time to ready for rebirth," York says. "For us, the last 2000 years has been the pagan winter."

The Editors - CNN Belief Blog

Have a Spooky Halloween!

Good Evening...
or Good Morning...

depending on what part of the globe you live in.

Tonight's story consists of a pretty young boy, above.
A house that may be haunted, or not,
and another pretty boy, below.

Get comfortable in your rocking chair and,
please, don't scream,
you might disturb the neighbors.

Click to enlarge

Can you hear the music.
The thunderous oboes... the strident violins...
If you can't hear it
press the play button in the contraption below.
And be surprised and entertained.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Yeaaah! A Three Day Halloweeeen!

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Twas 2007 and all thru CNN, not a light was alit, not even for Anderson...
...So he grabbed the flashlight and everything was well all 'round.
For it was Halloween and the spookies got spooked!

He makes that flashlight look hot.

Would You Like To Go To Mongolia?

What's the One Place You Want to Visit? (Audience Q&A)

Anderson has expressed his adoration for his hometown of New York City, his favorite vacation spots of Rome and Colombia, and a variety of other places he's had the opportunity to visit both on and off the job.

But what’s the one place he hasn't been to that he would like to visit?

One of our audience members asked, and you may be surprised by Anderson's answer.

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AC's Book

A Memoir of War, Disasters, and Survival," a "New York Times" best seller, is his account of the people he's met, the things he's seen and the lessons he's learned in the midst of devastation.

Dispatches from the Edge
Woven into the narrative is Anderson's struggle to understand his own family's personal tragedies. The paperback version came out May 8, 2007.

Excerpt: Dispatches from the Edge
Review: Anderson cooper's journey
'360' Blog: Anderson on the new book

Peter's Books

(3 short stories and 1 short play.)

The first installment of "The Gay Ghost Trilogy" is the story of Charles Lanier, a young gay guy who rents an apartment on Lake Shore Drive on the near north side of Chicago, and the unexpected adventures he encounters from the day he moves in. And that's only the beginning; follow up with "The Next Gay Ghost" and "The Two Gay Ghosts." Each story can be read independently from the other two installments. Or get all three books in one with "The Gay Ghost Trilogy."

"The Gay Ghost"

Paperback: $9.97 + shipping

"The Next Gay Ghost"

Paperback: $9.97 + shipping

"The Two Gay Ghosts"

Paperback: $9.97 + shipping

"The Gay Ghost Trilogy"

Paperback: $22.91 + shipping

And a One Act Play about a gay Garamatean and a gay Earthling:


Paperback: $10.70 + shipping

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