Mandi (left) and friends as the cast of Empire Records.
Halloween. It used to be my favourite holiday. It very well might still be. Though Thanksgiving is gaining ground. I mostly enjoy how Thanksgiving doesn’t take over the world for the month preceding it and yet there is still a turkey. Every year Halloween seems to come closer to the unholy orgy of excess that is Christmas. This creates hurdles.
Or perhaps I’m just getting older, turning into a Charles Schultz-esque curmudgeon and bemoaning the commercialization of childhood memories. I should just find the most sincere pumpkin patch and spend the week there, hiding from ornate window displays of cheaply produced, over-priced decorations and costumes.
Perhaps what gets me, like everything in our convenience-driven society, is the effort has been taken out of Halloween. Costumes don’t have to be creatively cobbled together from thrift-store finds and lawn displays are purchased wholesale instead of hammered together in the garage. Last night I came home to a plastic graveyard on my neighbor’s lawn—the same cheesy headstones I’d passed on the lawns of at least four houses on my street.
Jakob as “The Spirit of Christmas” (2003)
But turning into a grumpy old man aside, what’s always been my biggest Halloween hurdle as an adult is the costumes. I loathe wearing something ridiculous and uncomfortable in public.
And I’ve made myself of-so-uncomfortable in public on Halloween. For several years I always put on Beetlejuice grease-paint make-up and wore a black suit. I suppose was some kind of Reservoir Dogs ghoul. It always seemed like a good idea at the time—all I had to do was pick up a pack of make-up at the dollar store—but by an hour into the party (or shift at the videostore) it was the most uncomfortable torture you can imagine. By the end of the night there’d be claw-marks all over my face from where I was unconsciously scratching it like a cat with an abscess. Why did I do it every year? Clearly I was extremely dim in my younger years.
Jakob’s “Inner Monster” comes out (2005)
Not content to merely make myself uncomfortable, I began to design costumes to make everyone at the party uncomfortable.
It’s easier than you think. Start with a touch of drag, add a hint of passive-agression, top with a dash of TMI and blend into a hideous concoction. Since the year I went as My Inner Monster, I haven’t tried to take things to the next level.
The last time I dressed up it was as Robocoon, a character I played on a community radioshow. Robocoon didn’t make anyone uncomfortable, but a headpiece like that (see below) makes for awkward conversation. There’s only so many places in a crowded kitchen you can stand when your head is two feet wider than you’re used to.
In this episode we talk about the above plus, what the night is really about… candy, candy, candy! Next week we’re going to bring you a special report from Toronto’s 2009 Zombie Walk and discuss scary movies and monsters.
Jakob’s Robocoon costume from 2006:
Extra: Star Trek pumpkin stencils.
Bonus Extra: Gallery of nerdy jack-o-lanterns