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In 2011, Americans spent over 5.8 billion dollars on Halloween-related items. Five. BILLION. Assuming three quarters of the money was spent on candy and costumes, Halloween’s raison d’etre, that still leaves an enormous chunk of change frittered away on decor and gewgaws (and here I add my personal opinion that to purchase a costume is itself a waste).

It’s no surprise retailers latch onto Halloween as another excuse to push useless junk, or that the candy industry (ALLEGEDLY) tampered with time itself just to boost sales. Still, seeing the actual, physical detritus for sale is a depressing glimpse at naked capitalism, junk for junk’s sake churned out by the millions and sold at lower and lower prices until three days after the holiday, their true value is revealed in the dumpster behind the store.

It’s not all gloom and doom (though that would actually be semi-appropriate for a holiday based on appeasing and tricking the spirits of angry dead relatives into not killing you) – the absolute crap up for grabs is, in its own sad way, a Halloween treat. Below are some choice selections from Target’s vast warehouse of holiday goods:


Please explain to me what part of this wig is ‘urban’; perhaps that young Grandpa Munster’s out for a night on the town?


Of all the creeping Britishisms worming their way into American culture, ‘ginger’ is most irksome for its inherent insult and the fact ginger is not actually that color, ever.


The truly great catalog models stay deadly serious in character even wearing a mustache wider than their face.


Or a mop on their head.


He looks like a hissing cat. Also, dressing up as another holiday on Halloween should be a punishable offense.


It’s Peggy Bundy. Just call it ‘Peggy Bundy’.


This is a costume?

YOUR CHILD DOES NOT LIKE KISS.


Look at fake prepubescent Paul Stanley’s drawn-on chest hair! LOOK AT IT.


AAAAAH! WHY WOULD YOU NOT JUST PAINT YOUR FACE? Do you truly need the frozen visage of Paul Stanley staring out at the world like a somehow more horrifying Michael Myers?


Black Metal Carnivale!

I found it. I have found the lamest Halloween costume.

First, for the crime of dressing up as another holiday on Halloween. Second, for doing so with a total third-tier holiday. Third, ‘history hero’ is not the first phrase that comes to mind to describe Columbus. Fourth, it’s not a costume, it’s a ‘disguise kit’, implying some sort of Carmen Sandiego shenanigans going on, but with whole continents instead of national landmarks. Fifth, what child actually wants to dress up as a really crappy governor and semi-competent seafarer?

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Reading deeper into Mixtec codices, I have come to the conclusion telenovas are the modern permutation of a remembered history. Far from an excuse for spandex-clad catfights, these over-the-top miniseries are the very lifeblood of the peoples’ past come to dramatic life!

Much as the rich and spoiled Thalia is overtaken by power-hungry scrapper Rosalinda, so do the Mixtec codices show the swift and violent rise to rule of Lord Eight Deer Jaguar Claw against the powerful Lady Six Monkey, ruler of Tilantongo and the lands north of Jaltepec. But I’ve gotten far ahead of myself.

Pohl, John M.D. (2002). The Legend of Lord Eight Deer: An Epic of Ancient Mexico. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-195-14019-2. OCLC 47054677 Pohl, John M.D. (2002). The Legend of Lord Eight Deer: An Epic of Ancient Mexico. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-195-14019-2. OCLC 47054677

Known amongst themselves as Ne’ivi Davi (which despite sounding like a certain tribe from ‘Avatar’ means “People of the Rain”), they were called Mixtec (itself a Nahuatl word meaning “cloud people”) by the Aztecs and other Mesoamerican neighbors. The name reflects their original settlements in the hilltops of Oaxaca, and while the Mixtecs spread to surrounding lands and grew in influence, they never united as one power, instead having several major cities controlled by dynastic families.

Here’s where the telenovas come in – to keep power balanced, the ruling families constantly intermarried to ensure their bloodlines remained in power without resorting to bloody slaughter. Unfortunately, this did not prevent bloody slaughter so much as heighten its gothic brutality, as nearly all rises to power now involved murdering immediate family members in bizarre, ritually acceptable ways. Here’s a brief summation of Lord Eight Deer’s conquering of major city Xipe’s Bundle:

In 1101 8 Deer finally conquered Xipe’s Bundle, killed his wife’s father and his stepsister’s husband 11 Wind and tortured and killed his brothers-in-law, except the youngest one by the name of 4 Wind. In 1115 4 Wind lead an alliance between different Mixtec kingdoms against 8 Deer who was taken prisoner and sacrificed by 4 Wind, his own nephew and brother-in-law.

That’s not even taking into account the ways he killed any of them, which included ‘gladiatorial sacrifice’ and ‘arrow sacrifice’. Oh look, there’s pictures!

From: Stories in red and black: pictorial histories of the Aztecs and Mixtecs  By Elizabeth Hill Boone
(click for a larger image.)

Mixtec codices differ from others in the more straightforward pictoral depiction of events (as opposed to relying on symbols or phonetic images), and their comic-book like division into panels (those vertical lines separating the scenes). Here’s a slightly more Frazetta-ed interpretation of things:
from http://www.crystalinks.com/mixtec.html
(While not explicitly Eight Deer, the fellow on the right sports his iconic jaguar headdress.)

The initial reason I even stumbled across the Mixtec people was due to their colorful naming – most royals were named after their day of birth, along with an attributive secondary name. Unlike their Aztec neighbors, with whom they shared an interlinked 360-day solar/260-day sacred calendar, the Mixtecs did not consider certain days inauspicious, and therefore unsuitable for naming. They also, unlike the Aztecs and us, moved the coefficient and day sign in parallel, resulting in a repeating series of coefficient/day names instead of our and the Aztecs month(coefficient)/day….different month/day loop. You can read all about it here, which I assure you is not as boring as my half-assed explanation makes it seem. This excerpt from Eight Deer’s life features (aside from royal incest and the aforementioned over-the-top drama) a wide assortment of Mixtec birthdate names:

Born on the Mixtec Calendar date from which he got his name, 8 Deer was the son of the high priest of Tilantongo 5 Crocodile “Sun of Rain”. His mother was Lady 9 Eagle “Cocoa-Flower”, queen of Tecamachalco. He also had a brother 12 Earthquake “Bloody Jaguar” and 9 Flower “Copalball with Arrow” who were both faithful war companions of 8 Deer.

He also had a half-sister 6 Lizard “Jade-Fan”. First the fiancee and lover of 8 Deer himself, she was finally married to 8 Deer’s archenemy 11 Wind “Bloody Jaguar”, the king of the city “Xipe’s Bundle”.

The FAMSI website has a fun* feature where you can figure out your own royal Mixtec name. Just go here, plug in your birthdate on the right, and the last sign listed in the Long Count is your name!

*’fun’ is here qualified as something someone who voluntarily trawled through multiple FAMSI pages would find enjoyable.

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Click!

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