Tuesday, October 30, 2012

top ten Tuesday: Halloween essentials.

I look forward to Halloween the way most people look forward to Christmas. As soon as fall hits, I start counting down the days. My costume is planned out many months in advance, and I peruse the Halloween aisles at Target whenever I get the chance. Halloween is tomorrow, and I can hardly wait. So, just in time for my favorite holiday of all, here’s my list of top ten Halloween essentials!

a healthy dose of Halloween spirit
I was born with plenty of Halloween spirit.
Needless to say (but I’m going to say it anyway), this is absolutely crucial for an enjoyable Halloween. If you’ve got a bad attitude about the whole thing, you might as well sequester yourself in your house and not spread your gloom around. I, on the other hand, will be joyous and full of Halloween spirit. I never suffer a shortage of good Halloween tidings. I’m the Bob Cratchit of Halloween spirit.

a killer costume
“Killer” meaning “kick-ass,” not necessarily dressing up as an actual killer. I’m sure I mentioned this in last year’s Halloween blog post, but I have never – in all my years of Halloweening – dressed up as the same thing twice. Not all of my costumes were winners (the time I wore a vampire cape, plaid pants, and sunglasses and called myself Count von Disco Bono), but still, some sort of effort was put forth. I try not to spend too much money on my costume, so I have to do my best to be creative. Sometimes it works (the time I was a pink Croc), sometimes it doesn’t (Count von Disco Bono being the prime example). 
The Croc!
On the rare occasion when I can’t dress up on, so I have an emergency skeleton shirts and the ever-faithful Halloween socks and dancing skeleton earrings. My friends, you are never too old to dress up for Halloween.

“The Monster Mash”
Unlike Christmas, Halloween is sorely lacking in seasonal songs. However, the sheer awesomeness of “The Monster Mash” more or less makes up for the shortage of other Halloween songs. My Halloween isn’t complete until I’ve heard this song at least three times. I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I have yet to actually learn the Monster Mash. Maybe this will be the year.

candy (duh)
The candy is twice as good if it comes
out of a pumpkin bucket.
One of the best things about living in the country as a kid was the quality of Halloween candy. There were so few trick-or-treaters way out there that our country neighbors would dish out candy by the handful. They would often give away full-sized candy bars or twelve-packs of pop. And it was always the good candy – Kit Kats, Milky Ways, Hershey bars. We got very few trick-or-treaters at our house out in the country, so we were always left with an abundance of chocolate. That's actually why country folk buy the good candy – they know they’ll be left with a ton of it, so they buy candy that they’ll want to eat. My dad, for one, was never disappointed when he had a whole bucketful of Snickers all to himself. Now that I’m (sort of) an adult, I no longer go trick-or-treating. I live in an apartment building, so it’s safe to say that I won’t be getting trick-or-treaters. But will I buy some Halloween candy to eat all by myself? Hell yes I will.

Halloween TV
My favorite episodes of TV shows were always the ones that involved Halloween. When I was a kid, The Simpsons was outlawed at my house. My friend Allison had no such rule, so I’d always get to watch The Simpsons if I went over to her house after school. I didn’t even really like The Simpsons, but it was a classic case of “want what you can’t have.” Even though I never really got into The Simpsons, I loved their “Treehouse of Horror” episodes. Years later, when I started watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I discovered their truly great Halloween episodes. So every year, I watch my two favorite Buffy Halloween episodes: the one where they all turn into their Halloween costumes, and the one where they’re trapped in a haunted house and confronted with their greatest fears. Don’t worry: everybody’s ok in the end.
I can hear the theme song already.
Halloween movies
This is a rather broad category. Ever since I lived all alone in a creepy shed in some lady’s backyard in New Orleans, I’ve given up on scary movies. I’ll watch the classics, like Nosferatu and the original Psycho, but good luck getting me to watch anything much scarier than that. Even so, Halloween does require some kind of movie-viewing. For as long as I can remember, my movie of choice has been Hocus Pocus. This one’s got it all: witches, a curse, a friendly zombie, and a talking cat. It’s even got some mildly creepy stuff, like said witches trying to suck the lives out of children in order to preserve their youth. So if you haven’t seen it, you must remedy that this coming Halloween.
If this picture doesn't make you want to watch
Hocus Pocus immediately, I don't know what will.
Halloween decorations
When you think of holiday decorations, Christmas trees and twinkly lights are probably what first come to mind. For me? Jack o’ lanterns and glow-in-the-dark skeletons, thank you very much. As a kid, I loved helping Mom hang up the little bats and ghosts and spiders. 
Skip the Skeleton was (and is) my favorite
Halloween decoration. He says hello.
As an adult, my fondness for Halloween decorations has not diminished: I cram Halloween knick-knacks everywhere I can. Every year, on Halloween day, I head to Target and scoop up their already-clearanced Halloween d├ęcor. And you know what? I used my Target Halloween plates year-round.

some sort of Halloween activity
Your “Halloween activity” doesn’t necessarily need to be on Halloween itself, as Halloween is likely to fall on a weekday. The Halloween activity just needs to be somewhere around Halloween. The activity of choice for most is the haunted house. Personally, I’d rather not. I’ve been to one haunted house in my life – it was in Connecticut, and though it was pretty tame (there were toddlers there, for crying out loud), it scared the bejeezus out of me. I’m jumpy by nature, and when you add psychotic-looking actors who leap out at you from dark corners, it’s amazing that I make it through without having a stroke. In college, I used to go to the Haunted Hall, where they covered up dormitory walls in black garbage bags and led you around to various horror movie scenes being acted out. It was cheesy, but it was part of the college experience… or something. I’ve been to a zombie prom, costume parties (of course), and the Minnesota Orchestra playing the score from Psycho as the movie was screened in the background. 
We even got to meet Norman Bates's mother!
This year, James and I went to a lantern-lit tour of a historic Sioux Falls graveyard where actors told you stories of a handful of people buried there. So I’ve got my Halloween activity accomplished for this year. Next year’s goal: zombie pub crawl.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show
“But wait,” you say. “Didn’t we already cover Halloween movies?” Why, yes, we did. But Rocky Horror merits a category all its own. Rocky Horror is basically a Frankenstein movie, but with songs and fabulous drag queens. I first saw Rocky Horror on MTV when I was in my mid-teens, and I was hooked. When I got to college, I learned that they had midnight showings of Rocky Horror every Halloween – this is where I first learned of the audience participation. It was truly amazing. Over the years, I have been to four midnight showings of Rocky Horror, the best one being in uptown Minneapolis. You should’ve seen the costumes. Last year, at the midnight showing in Sioux Falls, I wore my own costume. Sadly, Tim Curry still looked better than me. 
I didn't stand a chance.
I even got to go to a theatrical production of Rocky Horror in Brookings last year, and I could’ve died happy that night.

friends who enjoy Halloween
Though it appears last on the list, this – like Halloween spirit – is vital for an optimally enjoyable Halloween. All that stuff I listed? You don’t want to do any of it alone. I am lucky enough to have James, who tolerates – maybe even enjoys – going to all these Halloween events with me. He’s been to two showings of Rocky Horror, plus a ghostly theatre tour in Minneapolis, the Minnesota Orchestra performing Psycho, and the graveyard tour. My friend Sue was the one who took me to the haunted house in Connecticut, and my friend Sara proudly accompanied me to the Haunted Hall and zombie prom in college. 
In high school, I always had friends (specifically, Bob, Meagan, and Allison) willing to dress up and visit houses around town. Halloween is a cut-and-dried case of “the more the merrier.”


There you have it: my top ten Halloween essentials. I don’t know about you, but I plan on employing each and every one of these to have the best Halloween possible. Unfortunately, I have to work on Halloween night, but I’m optimistic: I’m fortunate enough to work in a place where costumes are heartily encouraged, so you can bet your life I’ll be working in costume. I hope you have yourself a happy Halloween. If you need a good strong dose of Halloween spirit, come on over to my apartment. Hocus Pocus is sure to be playing, and I may even share my candy with you.

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