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October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 07:58 PM *

Q. Why did the ghost go to the bar?
A. For the boos.

Q. Why couldn’t Dracula’s wife get any sleep?
A. Because of his coffin.

Q. Why did the mummy go on vacation?
A. He wanted to unwind.

Q. Why don’t skeletons go skydiving?
A. No guts!

Q. Who did the ghoul invite to his party?
A. Anyone he could dig up.

Q. What’s the ratio of a pumpkin’s circumference to its diameter?
A. Pumpkin Pi.

Q. What supernatural being is the best dancer?
A. The boogieman.

Q. Why didn’t the skeleton go to the dance?
A. He had no body to go with.

Photo: Creative commons attribution share alike from
Comments on Happy Halloween:
#1 ::: Graham Blake ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2008, 08:28 PM:

I am virtually incapable of remembering a joke, however I do know one, and it is a Halloween one at that.

A skeleton walks into the bar and asks for a beer... and a mop.

#2 ::: Renatus ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2008, 08:35 PM:

Jim, those are all terrible and I'm cackling my head off at them. I have to say it's 2.30 am here and I've just finished my first mad dash for this year's NaNoWriMo, so I might just be delirious...

#3 ::: Julia ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2008, 08:35 PM:

why do computer scientists give presents on hallowe'en?

because oct 31 = dec 25.

#4 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2008, 08:44 PM:

Julia @ #3 -

I love that! I'm stealing it!

#5 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2008, 08:53 PM:

How many of you folks are fielding trick-or-treaters? I've had about 20 so far, but it's 8:40 now, so I'm guessing there won't be too many more. One kid wearing two masks tried for doubles ("this is one, and this is one"), but I just told him "nice try".

I think this is actually the first year I've ever carved my own jack-o-lantern -- since college, I've usually lived in apartments up till now). I know it's the first time since I moved here that I've used my gas oven (to roast the seeds with curry powder, yum), because burning off the dust while preheating, set off my smoke alarm. (Yeah, I'm lame, or at least microwave-dependent.)

Also, I only bought my first pomegranates of the season yesterday -- usually I get them in time for my birthday (a week ago). Gotta have pomegranates for Samhain! ;-)

#6 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2008, 09:01 PM:

Or 'Why can't programmers tell Halloween from Christmas?'

#7 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2008, 09:05 PM:

We've had one Trick-or-Treater. (quiet suburb, dead-end street.) We sent her off with 3 full-sized candy bars, She wouldn't take more.

I think the most we've ever had was 6.

#8 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2008, 09:24 PM:

We've had sixteen trick-or-treaters so far. Why do they call them trick-or-treaters when they won't do any tricks for their treats?

#9 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2008, 09:30 PM:

Fragano: Because the deal was, give them a treat, or they would play tricks.

We had a girl come by offering insurance, in the event of the house being egged. It felt so wrong.

#10 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2008, 09:30 PM:

We got off to an unusually slow start, with our first child around 7 pm (normally the crowds start around 6-ish), and trailed off before 9 pm. We did get a few dozen, but I am glad I bought only two bags this year -- we've got plenty of leftovers to take into the office.

For the first time, our son did not want to go out trick-or-treating. He just wanted to sit at the computer and read Girl Genius Online.

#11 ::: Laina ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2008, 09:35 PM:

Fragano, they only do tricks if you don't give them treats. Soaping windows and turning over outhouses were my father's explanation of what tricks might be performed if treats were not provided

I've had two groups, for a total of 7 trick-or-treaters tonight. Since it's 8:31, I don't expect I'll see more. I feel cheated! I bought lots of candy. I even changed the burned-out porch light so I could turn it on. The two groups showed up before I even got it turned on. But the folks at work will be happy to help with the candy on Monday

#12 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2008, 09:49 PM:

Terry @ #9, did you ask her if she worked for AIG?

Our neighborhood is full of 40-year-old homes and 65+-year-old residents; we get very few trick-or-treaters nowadays. I kinda miss 'em.

#13 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2008, 09:55 PM:

We got at least 70 before we ran out of candy, though things were thinning out by then. (I can't be sure of the exact number; we were both out with our kids for part of the night, and I got home late due to the Phillies parade aftermath seriously messing with public transit.)

The next street over, which is known fairly widely as *the* Halloween street in the area, was probably getting well over 100, judging from the number of kids we saw on the street there. (We get some of the overflow, plus the local neighborhood kids. It's a great chance to chat a bit with the neighbors you might normally only wave to in passing.)

Many of the houses have elaborate decorations, costumed candy givers, and even some games. ("Halloween Idol" has been a big hit the years it's been done; this year, there was a Wheel of Fortune-style game up the block instead.) For our house, we reused an old dragon/dinosaur costume the kids had outgrown, stuffed it, and placed it on top of a cave-like "lair" that my son helped build to hold the candy. The older kids had to reach in to get some, though for the younger kids we were nice and handed them ourselves. ("Is it sleeping?" one little one asked. We assured him it was. To the older ones who came later, we'd explain that it had already eaten by then, so we were *pretty* sure it was safe to reach in now...)

Our daughter spent the afternoon with a friend of hers who lives in the suburbs, and then they came to our neighborhood to go trick or treating, along with her friend's mom. I gather it was a rather bigger crowd than they're used to, but it sounds like they had a good time. And if we dole it out slowly, our kids may well have enough candy to last till nearly Easter...

#14 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2008, 10:02 PM:

There aren't many children in my neighborhood, and poor streetlights, so we never get very many trick or treaters - but we get some. I find it a bit reassuring that there are still parents willing to trust the universe enough to let their kids take candy from strangers.

#15 ::: Ariella ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2008, 10:04 PM:

The picture of John McCain that was posted the other day gave me an idea for a jack o'lantern. Thank you Making Light!

#16 ::: j austin ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2008, 10:26 PM:

Usually it cold here on Halloween--a couple years it's actually dusted a little snow. Tonight it's perfect, and we've gotten the fewest Trick or Treaters ever. We got some WWE wrestlers, a couple Iron Men, and one kid with V's Guy Fawkes mask and random monster hand just because. Voila.

#17 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2008, 11:12 PM:

I'm in an apartment complex full of engineers, many Indian and Asian. When they get families they move out. So, very few TorTers.

Did see one cute tot dressed as a bear. Mom & Dad looked raffish. Bikers? Not a costume, mind you.

The high-end neighborhood across the street had more action, including several groups of teen boys with no costumes who were from other neighborhoods. (It's a young-yuppy and retiree nieghborhood.)

#18 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2008, 11:16 PM:

None here (we're in the boonies) and we went into town where there were hordes. Then again, last year we bought three bags of candy and had none as well.

One of my kids (4 yrs) was saying that he didn't like taking candy from people because it wasn't fair.

I'm not sure I parse that, but between the two kids, we have three pieces of candy in the house, because the 1.5 yr old was even less sure of the whole thing.

There's not even enough candy to steal some unnoticed.

#19 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2008, 11:21 PM:

I didn't actually count how many kids came by -- more than in previous years, I think (but that probably only means a dozen-or-so). Unfortunately, thanks to the person with the largest hands doling out the candy (by the handful!), there's not much left to snack on. Ah well :) It's doubtless better for my health, if not my sweet tooth.

#20 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2008, 11:29 PM:

I was out for part of the evening - something came up - but while home, we received 1 group with 5 kids. Saw some others out on the nearby streets while driving home, so I presume we missed some groups, too. Still might get a few older kids (it's 8:30 here), but that'll probably be all.

#21 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2008, 11:34 PM:

On the other hand, this is the first time I've carved a pumpkin that I grew myself. Three vines yielded 6 pumpkins, from rather large (20 inch dia) to smallish (8 inch).

It's not a work of art, but I had lots of help.

#22 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2008, 12:50 AM:

I had 23, some of whom I knew. There's extra candy for my brother and his family to take home on Sunday.

#23 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2008, 01:02 AM:

If Wal-Mart has a big sale after dark on Halloween, is it Wal-purchase nacht?

We're in Austin for the Celtic Festival, so no trick-or-treaters; our house rarely gets more than about a dozen anyhow.

The commonest trick played in my old neighborhood was TPing (aka "rolling yards" in some regions) -- taking rolls of toilet paper and throwing them repeatedly into someone's tree in such a way that the branches became all wound up with the paper. At least it was biodegradable...

#24 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2008, 01:13 AM:

I think the doorbell rang 4 times. Each was a clamoring horde, so it was difficult to take in the costumes. One group was teenagers, but the others were little kids: princess, vampire, bear, Darth Vader. One mom was dressed as Sarah Palin, in a Queen of Mavericks sash.

#25 ::: Carl Rigney ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2008, 01:29 AM:

Q. What do Gingerbread Men wear to costume as ghosts on Halloween?
A. Cookie sheets!

#26 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2008, 01:45 AM:

Prize winner for most brazen candy grab (so far): a young girl/woman (18? 20?) with no costume, carrying a pillowcase, rejoining her female companion at the end of the driveway and continuing on. Walking the dog all the while.

Cutest of the 10 we've had so far: A little girl who said "Mommy messed up my costume so I'm just wearing makeup." (No word on how Mom felt about that; she was at the end of the driveway, though, so she heard it.)

#27 ::: deathbird ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2008, 04:36 AM:

I'm not really a fan of the whole trick-or-treat thing because it always seens like a thinly disguised protection racket to me.

Here in the land of Oz, the whole Halloween thing has never taken off to the same extent as in the US, although I did spy a number of small children clutching freshly purchased witches-hair wigs and monster masks while I was shopping yesterday.

They didn't try trick-or-treating my apartment, probably because they'd need a Sherpa guide to make it up the numerous very steep stairs.

OTOH, my office went all out on the Halloween theme because head office (in the US) sent a memo about holding a Halloween decorations contest.

#28 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2008, 05:07 AM:

We are entirely out of the Halloween Sphere of Influence here in the Netherlands. So we weren't planning on doing anything beyond pumpkin carving.

But then I bumped into the highly energetic and capable mother of the American family in the village. Result: my kids, her three, and the two daughters of the Australian/Dutch family all dressed up and visited one another's houses, plus those of a couple of well-prepped locals who were willing to give out some of their Sint Maartin† candy early and experience a little foreign culture in exchange.

My daughter recycled her brother's old Jedi knight costume, while he went as a wizard (with cape, hat, spellbook, and glowing juggling ball*). The others all went for princess/witch crossovers. Mothers were witch, pirate, and (sorry; I had to) Sarah Palin.

Most of the locals we passed on the street looked at us in bafflement. The teenagers, however, called "Halloween!" and "Trick or treat".

Then we went into the graveyard, where two of the dads were creeping with lanterns, making strange noises, until we caught them.

The kids loved it all.

† 11 November, when the kids go out with home-made lanterns and sing songs for treats.
* He had to get the right page in the spellbook before he would make the ball glow in the dark alleys. He had, let us say, magic-user timing.

#29 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2008, 05:39 AM:

Renatus: I have to say it's 2.30 am here and I've just finished my first mad dash for this year's NaNoWriMo, so I might just be delirious...

Here too, if a good six time zones behind you. We just finished up our annual NaNoWriMo kickoff, in which participants as well as non-participating-but-supporting friends are encouraged to start showing up around 10 PM with potluck goodies, and at midnight we all start writing. People started trickling away again around 1. It's 3:30 now, and my husband is out driving home the last of 'em.

The two of them - hubby and the friend he's driving home - are taking part in their own side-project, NaPro[gramming]WriMo. They are shooting for 50,000 lines of code by November 30. I'm not sure exactly how one starts writing a program with nothing in mind but a final line count; it seems functionally different from starting to write a book with nothing in mind except a final word count. John says he's thinking of writing the most elaborate "Hello World" evar.

In any case, more NaNoing than Halloweening here, and goodness knows we never seem to have trick-or-treaters in our 24-unit condo/apartment building. But we did observe Samhain most solemnly by filling out our interminable Colorado mail-in ballots together over dinner. Go us!

#30 ::: Nenya ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2008, 06:34 AM:

I dressed up as a LOLcat (cat accessories, plus cardboard sign inscribed O HAI). Only one or two people at the incredibly busy bar my sister & her fiancée took me to guessed what I was, but several thought the cat outfit was cute. Sister was Hannibal Lector; future SIL was a Confederate officer. The winner of the women's costume contest was a pair of people dressed as Bristol and Sarah Palin. (Signs for "Palin for Abstinence".)

The rest of the household where I'm staying were also out for the night, but before I went out with sister I dropped by two different friends' houses. One had lots and lots of kids, but was giving out pencils instead of candy; the other had candy but only a few kids. I kept being surprised by how many kids were out on the streets with their parents, though. I think it was a good night for it--nippy, but not too freezing cold.

(Though the gentleman at the bar dressed in little more than green feathers might have begged to differ, at least if he didn't change before walking to his car!)

#31 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2008, 07:57 AM:

I bought way too much candy. While my wife and I were watching our DVDs of Them! and It Came From Outer Space, we seldom had to hit the pause button. As a result, I decided to be very generous with my donations of sweets, which had a 4-year-old girl run away saying "Wheeee!"

#32 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2008, 07:57 AM:

One of the options my daughter was toying with before she settled on Dr. Horrible was Schrodinger's LOLcat - cat makeup with an open box around her head and a sign reading "O hai - ur quantum theory, I upgraded it."

I've been down with stomach yuckies, so I kept the light off last night.

#33 ::: Nix ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2008, 08:47 AM:

Light off for me too, thanks to really nasty cold with high fever. I was hoping for some nice gharstley hallucinations, in keeping with the spirit of the season, but I didn't even get those. What a con.

Still, Guy Fawkes with giant bonfire and fireworks coming. That's the *real* occasion in darkest rural England. Halloween is slightly suspicious and foreign and might even be Catholic.

#34 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2008, 08:53 AM:

deathbird @#27:

I'm not really a fan of the whole trick-or-treat thing because it always seems like a thinly disguised protection racket to me.

Well yes -- historically derived from the supernatural equivalent, via "as above so below...." Doesn't mean it can't be fun!

I did get a lot of kids without costumes, but what the heck. In some cases the costumes may have been buried under coats -- as a refugee from the North, I have a very different view of the local fall weather than my neighbors do!

I didn't do a costume myself this year -- no party, and I'd been running around buying a present for my sister's B-day tomorrow. (This year wasn't my best effort there, but I think it'll do.)

eric @#21: carved a pumpkin that I grew myself. Yowsa! I've never had a proper garden since early childhood, but if I ever do, pumpkins or squash of some sort will definitely be in it... the flowers are just so gorgeous!

#35 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2008, 09:24 AM:

We had maybe 2 dozen trick-or-treaters. Middle daughter (19) stayed home in her Good Fairy outfit to hand out candy (having worn the costume to work earlier) while youngest (16) in her Bad Fairy outfit came with us to the community theater's Halloween party. I went as the Specter of Liberalism because my Pele costume wasn't ready (still missing the lights), but I'll wear it to tonight's party, which is a costume party though not technically a Halloween one. (Dia de los Muertos?) Eldest daughter informed us by phone that her Halloween triumph involved winning a bobbing for apples contest--IN A NINJA MASK!

#36 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2008, 09:39 AM:

Nenya @30:

#37 ::: bentley ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2008, 09:56 AM:

@10: We got off to an unusually slow start, with our first child around 7 pm (normally the crowds start around 6-ish)

Around here, the local towns set trick or treating times. Here it's 3:30 to 7.

#38 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2008, 10:01 AM:

I drove to the Steel Yard in Providence last night to watch the Iron Guild pour glowing metal into various things like "reaction molds" including a mold made of hard sugar (the Steel Yard has a class in "Industrial Casting Techniques for the Kitchen") — interrupted by zombie invasions that were quickly repelled with molten iron.
As a bonus, someone had made a full sized trebuchet and was tossing pumpkins to the back end of the yard.
Oh, and art bikes, with flaming skulls.

#39 ::: bentley ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2008, 10:05 AM:

Forgot to mention: the best costumes were a paired Rose and Dalek (ages 11 and 7). (The Dalek kid couldn't wear his costume to school because it was too wide, so he went to school as the Seventh Doctor.)

#40 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2008, 10:06 AM:

abi @28 -- thanks to German TV, they're way "ahead" of the Netherlands here concerning Halloween. Trick* or treating isn't done, but a lot of teens have costume parties.

I find it kind of disappointing. Similar to the Netherlands, they celebrate St. Martin's in just a couple of weeks. It's a lovely holiday, but also a quiet one, and it admittedly appeals to younger children.

(Not that I dislike Halloween! It just doesn't feel right here. I once won a prize for a costume: I concocted a penguin suit out of a Goodwill men's suit jacket, an old sheet, and yellow scrubbing gloves. Didn't speak to anyone at the party, and the friends who'd brought me didn't spill the beans. I won in the category "best disguised person" and the prize was a bottle of wine -- sans label.)

*We woke up with a window egged today :(

#41 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2008, 10:41 AM:

Hallowe'en is big in our neighborhood-- the only thing the whole place does, in fact. We had about 20-30 kids, some imported. Our eldest took his borthoer around, who has finally decided that he LIKES Hollowe'en.

#42 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2008, 11:04 AM:

bentley @ 39...

A paired Rove and Dalek? Isn't that too scary a duo even for the grownups?!!!
("Serge, it's Rose, not Rove.")

#43 ::: Tim Hall ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2008, 11:06 AM:

Went to a gig last night (200 mile round trip just to avoid trick-and-treaters!) After a two-hour set of original material, the band encored with Bach's Toccata and Fugue in A Minor, followed by Metallic's Enter Sandman.

Wonder if anyone can guess the band? I suspect Hedgeprog probably can :)

#44 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2008, 11:17 AM:

I won Best Scientific Costume at my department's party for my plant growth chamber costume. I feel awesome. Other sciency costumes included SUPER-OXIDE!, the Lab Fairy, and a glove box. Our political winners were a ballot, worn sandwich-board style, and the $700 B Bailout, who carried a bucket full of candy and money for anyone to take.

I was a bad door-opener. When the pack of boys asked for more candy, I threw not-actually-enough pieces into the air and told them to fight for it.

#45 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2008, 11:56 AM:

I often work Halloween, and when I'm home I hate running downstairs to answer the door, so I usually put a bowl of candy on the doorstep with a sign "only one each, please." I don't get many kids coming by, and usually there's lots left. Last year I forgot the sign and the bowl was empty; this year I bought more candy. I did have some left over, but not a lot, so there may be more trick or treaters lately.

#46 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2008, 12:34 PM:

No trick or treaters here (just as well; no candy).

Did anyone else -- especially in the Western time zone where hours were better -- watch the HPL-inspired movies on Turner? The Haunted Palace was passed off as Poe, with Lovecraft in the small-print credits, but featured Vincent Price as a certain Charles Dexter Ward. My husband had seen Die, Monster, Die! before, but "only in gray"; now we got the full lurid color, with only Karlov remaining gray. And I was fascinated, if also slightly bored, with the British Sixties version of The Shuttered Room: no frog monsters, nasty male hicks straight out of Deliverance, music that included harpsichords and tablas, Gig Young as kung fu action hero(!), Carole Lynley wistful/miserable but not the standard negligee-clad screaming ninny (see how she faces down Oliver Reed's would-be assault), and only two older actors managing anything like a true New England accent -- Flora Robson was one of these, and quite good in general.

My husband's from Maine, so we watched the thing with a mix of laughs and stupefaction, but I did learn something new via his insight: the young Oliver Reed looked a bit like Stephen King. (Same liplessness and wide face.)

#47 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2008, 12:52 PM:

My neighborhood doesn't do trick-or-treating, or indeed decorations at all. We do have kids in the neighborhood, so I'm not really sure why. We are kind of just over the line from an area that gets really bad really fast, so it's possible people don't want to take the chance of attracting the juvenile delinquents.

It makes me sad. I love Halloween.

I really like all holiday rituals. I've discovered that they're really important to me, and I feel all out-of-sorts and lonely and empty if the seasons aren't marked at all. My boyfriend and his family don't do holidays nearly to the extent that my family does them, and it's going to be something to be hammered out, what holiday traditions there should be and why.

#48 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2008, 01:53 PM:

One group, three kids, including a very cute witch with tall pointy hat. We're at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac with only one kid old enough to know what's going on, plus we're up a whole bunch of steps way back from the street. So we've got a lot of candy left over, which I'm leaving out on the sideboard for any house-viewrs who come by this weekend. We did have a pumpkin on the porch, but as mentioned in verse some days back in the open thread, the deer ate it, leaving some very hard-to-clean-up stains.

Our horror viewing for the night was a "Modern Marvels" on corrosion and decomposition that had been languishing on the Tivo for long enough we thought we'd better put it out of its misery.

#49 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2008, 01:57 PM:

Debbie #40, abi #28:

I remember San Martino in Venice. Nice noisy street holiday, firecrackers going off, creatures on stilts, general aura of festival. Guy Fawkes without the bonfire? And then there are all the cookies, which almost qualify for Teresa's molded cookie thread.

#50 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2008, 03:17 PM:

something to try next year:

#51 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2008, 03:18 PM:

joann @49 -- St. Martin's is much quieter here, but there are bonfires. Usually schools and churches put on a reenactment of the St. Martin legend of his sharing his cloak with a beggar, and there's a parade around the neighborhood with the kids showing off the lanterns they made in school. There are special songs for the occasion. In my area of Germany, the kids go house to house for candy afterwards -- the catch is, they have to sing a song to get the candy. As you can imagine, interest in doing that wears thin after about 5th grade. No special cookies, but the bakeries sell dough figures supposedly representing St. M.

Caroline @47 -- I hear you. I'm a big holiday fan, and my husband is emphatically not. Good luck!

#52 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2008, 04:21 PM:

Terry Karney #9: So the whole thing's an ancient Celtic protection racket?

#53 ::: Renatus ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2008, 04:21 PM:

Nicole @29: They are shooting for 50,000 lines of code by November 30.

Now that is crazy! Charmingly crazy, but much nuttier than this novel thing!

My little writing fest was both my own personal kickoff and my Halloween celebration (which is how I justified a candy bar); Finns don't do Halloween and I don't know anyone here doing NaNo. C'est la vie. At the very least, I was IMing with my girlfriend as I wrote and got to paste her chunks of story as I finished them. That was fun, and encouraging!

#54 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2008, 04:23 PM:

Laina #11: Overturned outhouses? That's moderately evil.

#55 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2008, 05:18 PM:

Fragano -- Just a venerable, venerated U.S. custom.

My dad and his crew back when he was rascally young fellow was a busy outhouse tipper-over.

Did I say that right? Maybe not ....

Love, C.

#56 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2008, 05:33 PM:

Constance #55: But what if the outhouse is occupied. Then tipping it over is fuvggl behaviour.

#57 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2008, 05:44 PM:

Moving the outhouse 2' back is teh eevvil

#58 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2008, 05:58 PM:

We went with the same friends we go with every year. We always gather at the house of a friend who lives in a known "good trick or treating" neighborhood. (People come in from all over the metro, based on the license plates we see.)

She has one son who is a teenager, and thus generally considered too old to get candy. He goes around to all the houses in the neighborhood about a week early, and leaves postcards explaining that he and his friends will be coming around Hallowe'en night collecting canned food for the local food shelf, and asking people to have a can or two by the door when they come.

Then, on Hallowe'en the "big kids" can still dress up and go out, and generally get lots of positive feedback from the adults. (Plus, a fair amount of candy, which they are freely given because they are being so nice.)

The little kids go out for regular trick or treating. We let them choose which houses to go to. They were pretty unanimous. Houses with pumpkins - yes. Houses with elaborate light and music displays - no. Houses with large bonfires in the driveway (we saw two of those) - no. Houses with no particular decorations but the lights on - maybe, if they know who lives there. Houses with other trick-or-treaters clustered around the door squealing - absolutely.

Then we go back to my friend's house, and the teenagers go down in the basement and watch scary movies and do whatever teenagers do. (My friend goes down at random but frequent intervals with such things as pizza and homemade cupcakes, to discourage whatever teenagers do without making herself obnoxious.)

The little kids stay upstairs and distribute candy and watch a different set of scary movies. Plus they eat pizza. All the candy they collect goes into a pile, and they each choose an equal number of pieces, usually some function of their ages. Then the leftover candy (a huge amount) goes to the food shelf with the canned goods.

The big kids had several wagon loads of cans last night, so I'm sure the food shelf was happy. My beloved child expressed the opinion that she would have been happier with more candy, but she didn't seem to feel strongly about it.

All told, there were probably close to 100 kids that showed up at her house. Lots of parents walking in the street, keeping an eye on things. One small child crying because he dropped his treat bag and no one would help him find his candy. Pirates, princesses, a Clone warrior, some kind of ghoul with realistic blood running everywhere, lots of generic scary looking guys, one Jesse Ventura. (It's Minnesota.)

#59 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2008, 06:25 PM:

Mark (32): My niece (early 20s) dressed up as Schroedinger's cat. Her boyfriend was Schroedinger. It was their first NYC Halloween. They had a blast.

#60 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2008, 06:56 PM:

Mary Aileen #59:

How did the costumes work? She was in a box? He kept peeking at her to see if she was alive or not?

(It suddenly occurs to me that there may be some bizarre Orpheus and Eurydice things going on here that I'd never thought about because the experimenter and experimentee aren't usually seen as wandering round.)

#61 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2008, 08:21 PM:

All I've seen is one picture, of the two of them on the subway. She was wearing cat ears (and tail? I'm not sure) and a box labelled all over with ALIVE? DEAD? His costume seemed to consist mainly of a t-shirt proclaiming "Schroedinger's cat is dead."

#62 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2008, 09:49 PM:

At the risk of sounding slightly spammish (though it fits in with the site's knitting mission statement), I can recommend kittyhats as a good start for your cat costuming needs.

This is a local craftsperson who knits 'kittyhats'; I bought a couple at a crafts fair for my nieces last Christmas, and they were a big hit. The nieces struck struck a pose with their new hats, and their mom snapped a photo. I did a LOLcat treatment and emailed to the lady with permission to use it if she could; here it is on the gallery page.

#63 ::: JennR ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2008, 10:07 PM:

I have no idea how many kids wandered by on the street. Our lights were off, and I wasn't home at all. Eldest Urchin was playing in the marching band at a playoff football game, and I was an official Band Mom. (Many of the Usual Staff of Band Moms were off running T-or-T at their homes, where they often get 150 or more.)

The guy I married set up the stuff at the church (rural church + busyish rural highway where people drive 55+, even on Halloween night = church running a Halloween party in the parking lot), and then took Youngest Urchin into town, and eventually to the football game so he could get more video of the marching band with his new camera.

What's a mummy's favorite music?

#64 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2008, 10:30 PM:

Fragano: I'm not sure. It seems the rituals may have spilled over from Christmas (which used to be a big time of such things) and the oddities of celtic tradition attached to it.

I'd have to do some research on timing to see if the Irish brought it over with the potato famine (which was about the time Christmas was being toned down and made into a hearthside holiday)

#65 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2008, 10:59 PM:

Terry Karney #64: Something nags at my memory and tells me that Hallowe'en was originally more Scottish than Irish.

#66 ::: Laina ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2008, 11:01 PM:

Fragano #54 I'd agree that it's moderately evil, but as Constance #55 said, a venerable, venerated U.S. custom. My impression was that the outhouses were normally turned over in the middle of the night, when they were less likely to be in use. I also think there were other, more elaborate, tricks, but I can't remember now what they were.

#67 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2008, 01:12 AM:

If I was gonna do Schroedinger's Cat, I'd do a cat costume half of which is covered with zombie makeup... though that's bad logic, it would still be funny.

This year I wore my Fourth Doctor scarf and hat. Hardly a costume, as I wear it frequently anyway, but I was pleased and surprised when a couple of different people recognized who I was supposed to be. Perhaps they usually aren't attuned to it - or just aren't sufficiently outgoing, around here, to make remarks. ("Where's your TARDIS?" "Over there. I got the chameleon circuit fixed!")

#68 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2008, 07:32 AM:

AJ Luxton @ 67... I wore my Fourth Doctor scarf and hat. Hardly a costume, as I wear it frequently anyway

At the masquerade of 1980's worldcon in Boston, someone came onstage dressed exactly like that. With nothing else on.

#69 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2008, 01:05 PM:

On Friday I was walking through downtown Oakland, and I saw a man dressed in a conservative business suit, wearing a bowler hat...and from the front of the hat there was suspended a green apple hanging down in front of his face. That is, he was dressed as René Magritte's The Son of Man. I laughed and gave him a thumbs-up.

#70 ::: firstgentrekkie ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2008, 04:56 PM:

At the masquerade of 1980's worldcon in Boston, someone came onstage dressed exactly like that. With nothing else on.

I was there!

#71 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2008, 06:22 PM:

Belated after-action report:

One of the boy's first grade friends has her birthday the week before, and this year she announced to her parents that she wanted a combined birthday/Halloween party. They said sure, so that's what we did. It was a good party - good food, including kid-friendly stuff like plain pasta with cheese and finger-foods, beer & wine for the adults. They had "Monsters, Inc." playing on a projector in the garage, but the kids were mostly running around giggling and playing various things, not watching it.

Around 7:30 a bunch of us took the kids out trick-or-treating around the neighborhood. There must have been about 20 kids in our group; it being mostly first-grade girls, they were about 40% princesses and 40% fairies by volume. A lot of people were not home (or were pretending not to be) but those who were open for business were giving generously. It was fun.

Finally dragged the boy home about 9:15, where he attempted to throw himself into bed sans tooth-brushing, face-washing, or using toilet. A combination of Reason and warnings of a possible time-out eventually induced him to do the minimal prep and then flop into bed with parental approval.

Then I sat up late with the teenager and watched Dark Water, a good Japanese ghost/horror movie. (My wife doesn't do scary movies.) All in all, a good Halloween.

#72 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2008, 10:32 AM:

As has become my custom, I hosted a big party Friday night. There were some pretty awesome costumes, and some very fun moments. Also, everyone was greeted at the front walkway by my Barack O'Lantern!

Of Trick-or-Treaters, though, I only had a handful, as usual. Maybe a hair fewer than last year, even.

#73 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2008, 10:40 AM:

I was there, actually in the photo area, and I don't remember that one at all. (Some of the others, yes.)

#74 ::: Doug spots comment spam ::: (view all by) ::: March 10, 2009, 05:16 AM:

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