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Too far away from the previous weekend to warrant proper revelry, not close enough to the next weekend to justify celebrating post-actual holiday, Thursday Halloweens are the most neglected Halloweens. Do your small part to help by wearing costume no matter what your day entails. And with this handy last minute guide, there’s no excuse not to dress up for the office, school, or whatever cramped underlit area you while away your days in.

 

The Monolith from ’2001: A Space Odyssey’

full_frontal_monolith

 

What you’ll need:

Large cardboard box (check IKEA or any place that sells refrigerators or flat-pack furniture)

Matte black spray paint

Black pantyhose

Glue gun/stapler

Duct tape

Random takeout containers &/or soda caps, or foam balls

Portable music device & portable speakers

1. Accept this will be a physically awkward costume. You will not be able to sit or walk very easily, but it will be worth it for the sheer weirdness of having a giant alien monolith in the middle of a party. Or room. Or daycare center.

2. Try on the box. Mark your eye level. Cut off the flaps by your feet.

3. Cut a small rectangular slit out at eye level. You can do the same on the box sides as well, if you care about peripheral vision. I don’t. Cut out a rectangle or two near the top of the box, either at the very top or on the sides (this is for the sound to come through).

4. Cut two thick strips from the bottom cardboard flaps – these will be your internal hand holds. Glue or staple the top part of the strip to the side wall, and repeat on the bottom, leaving room for your hand to grip the rest of the strip between.

5. Spray paint the box a fine matte black, including inside the eyeholes.

You won’t be able to spray-paint it the mattest black of the actual monolith though – turns out our blackest blacks are classified by the government! No joke – the U.S. Air Force pays good money to companies who can come up with ever-blacker blacks, as a paint that would prevent visibility either through radar or visual spectrum would be VERY USEFUL to use on satellites and plane underbellies that one might want to go undetected.

6. Cut out bits of the pantyhose larger than the eyehole and other holes cut. You may need more than one layer. Stretch and glue/staple the pantyhose to the INSIDE of the box.

7. Put ‘Requiem for Soprano, Mezzo Soprano, Two Mixed Choirs & Orchestra‘ and ‘Atmospheres’ on your music device. I recommend taping the speakers near your speaker-holes using duct-tape, but if another configuration works for you, go for it.

8. Tah-dah! You’re ready to join the party! Get your pal to go as the Star Child or Dave for a couples costume, or if you have kids, get them to dress up as little apes. For extra fun, read this extensive theory on the Monolith as Movie Screen and the enlightenment of the viewer/Dave.

 

Talking Head

thoial

 

What you’ll need:

Cardboard box big enough to fit around your head

spray paint (likely black, or purple if you want a Simpsons TV)

Boxcutter/X-Acto/Scissors

Coat hanger/wire

Moderate drawing skills/printer

Glue gun/tape

 

1. Cut a hole at the bottom of the box big enough to squeeze your head through, but not so big it wobbles all around. If necessary cut bigger and once the box is on tape the hole smaller.

2. Draw a TV on the front of the box (either old-style with the knobs on the side and rounded corners, or ultra-sleek and modern with just a thin border and the name brand at the bottom. If the latter, make sure your box is ‘widescreen format’ (16:9) instead of traditional 3:4 ratio.

Here’s a nice vector image of the Simpsons’ tv to give you an idea of what you’re going for:

free-vector-the-simpsons-tv_029933_the-simpsons-tv

3. Cut out the ‘screen’ portion of your TV.

4. Spray paint the set the color of your choice.

5. Draw in any details. Use whatever vaguely dome-like objects at hand (half a tennis ball, take out container, cat food can) and glue it to the top of your TV. Glue smaller objects on the side (liter soda caps, buttons, whatever)

6. Depending on what kind of TV show you’re going for, draw or print out a picture to go behind your head. Action sequence, car chase, news outlet – might I recommend finding a dangerous situation (like a car burning, a bank robbery in progress) and going as local Tri-State news anchor and trouble magnet Ti-Hua Chang?

7. Unbend the wire and re-bend into classic rabbit ears (or skip this step if you’ve gone for the heartless modern variant).

8. Dress to match your chosen genre, and pop on your TV head.

 

Ralph Wiggum as Idahotumblr_lcj55pVdCk1qztjn5o1_500

What you’ll need:

Collared blue shirt

Matching pants

Piece of paper

Tape

 

I am not even going to dignify this with instructions, as it is truly the lazy man’s costume. If you happen to have foamcore about (or just an old mattress pad), you could just as easily whip up Lisa’s ‘Floreda’ costume.

 

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Part of the annual Christmas haul in my family is a stocking full of wee edible goodies. Among this year’s treats was a bag of gummi bears (gummy bears? I’ve no idea). Two weeks later, after housing half the bag, I noticed they were comprised solely of the best colors (color and flavor being interchangeable here) – cherry and lime. Further inspection revealed these were no ordinary gummies, but Christmas Bears!

As I continued to stuff my face I noticed an additional detail- just as their illustrated counterparts were drawn, the gummies themselves had little Santa hats in red or green. Charming! And also delicious.

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Now that I’m not sloshing through dirty snow or shoving past crowds, I can reflect fondly on Christmas in the city (call it ‘holiday’ all you want PC Patrol, but that’s no Hannukah bush up at Rockefeller center). Having an out-of-town friend come in is the best way to enjoy all the ‘touristy’ stuff in New York, and lucky for me a friend joined me from Philly just in time for all the holiday cheese. We wasted no time in checking out the coup-de-grace of seasonal tourist gawking- the Rockefeller Tree:

Rockefeller Center

Somewhere out there that 4000 year old gnarled Dwarf Pine is chuckling to itself. Each year a paid group seeks out the largest and most beautiful tree in the nation…to chop down and slowly die in front of thousands. The rainbow lights are the final insult.

I’ve been more interested in Saks 5th Ave’s ‘Singing Snowflakes’ display since it caught me by surprise 2 years ago- out of nowhere the whole building started blinking in time to the badass version of ‘Caroling of the Bells’ (itself a spooky bit of Christmas cheer no matter how it’s sung), captivating me through the magic of well-timed light display.

Singing Snowflakes

Lines wrap around all the big department stores for viewing their window displays. Unfortunately both Saks and Macy’s windows were sappy Santa stories pandering to kids about the magical wonderment of their missals getting to Santa’s shop of whimsical delight. Meh.

Fortunately the fancier stores went in the random crazy direction, resulting in the following:

Crazy Store Displays
Flying bed in a sparkletree? Sure!

Crazy Store Displays
Dapper wolf playing piano for a draped chantuse? Why not! It’s Christmas!

As Kent Brockman warned us, KillStorm ’09 bore down on us like a shotgun full of snow:

Killstorm 2009

Killstorm 2009

Perhaps it’s early-onset Cabin Fever, but this is the Christmas tree I whipped up:

Ghetto Tree

Yeah. That is indeed a jug of cat litter holding it up (I couldn’t find the base or top). Happy Holidays, folks!

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…So it won’t matter we’re about 2 weeks into November when I post this. This year’s Halloween was a four-day marathon of hanging out with people, going to parties both fun and lame, and cosutmed hi-jinx. The most fun was had going down to Greenwood Cemetary, New York’s second oldest, located in Brooklyn. I wasn’t sure when they closed, but figured it’d be a great way to spend Sunday afternoon with my sister Melissa. Nick and Dan came along, as did Mikka, Nick’s fun and friendly roommate.

Melissa called up and said Bryce was coming along, and could we please meet at Pizzeria Uno? Uh, ok, sure. She was ‘starving’ and I guess Pizzeria Uno pizzas have the special nutritional balance to restore your electrolytes. As we headed over, we ran into Thomas, a co-worker of Mel’s and friend of ours. Would he care to join us on our venture? He certainly would! He also wanted Nick to draw ‘Irish’ tattoos all over him for his costume- a guy who was really into being Irish.

We’d ordered everything to go, for the sun was setting and I feared we’d get there to find closed gates. When they finally showed up, Mel pointed out the foolishness of eating deep-dish pizza from a box and walking, plus she was starrrrrrrrviiiiiing!!! Okay then. We ate our to-go pies sitting down, while Mel and Bryce ordered another pie. Pizzeria Uno’s stuff looks small, but it is so disgustingly greasy and fatty you really can’t eat more than 2 slices without feeling vaguely nauseous. So by the time their pie came out, no one could stomach looking at it, forget eating another bite. We wrapped it up, and with a quick stop at Ricky’s for fake tattoo equipment, hopped on the train. The sun was casting long shadows, and we came to an agreement- the second we got there, we’d bolt for the gates and even if they were about to close run in as far as we could. They’d have to drag us out. During the 40-minute ride, Nick drew a Guiness, a lyre, a bunch of shamrocks, the Red Sox logo, and a knuckle tattoo that said ‘ERIN GBRA’ on Thomas.

The train drops you off a mere block away from the cemetary, and the whole place smells like yummy bread from a bakery nearby. There’s a beautiful glass-domed building that sells flowers, headstones and monuments just across the street from Greenwood that dates from the turn of the century. Mikka and I noted it’s lovely structure as we ran past. Everyone else were being lazy piles, while we scooted past the still-open front gates and up to the amazingly beautiful gothic entryway. The bored guard sitting there informed us we had 40 minutes until the park(Greenwood was designed as a walking cemetary) closed. Super!

Once the troops were rallied(ie they finally caught up), we followed the plan- wander in as deeply as possibly and have them drag us out. Of course, security turned out to be 3 guys who were far less zealous about their job than they should have been on Mischief Night. As we walked in we realized, perhaps we should have thought this out more. The sky was quickly darkening, and we were entering the one chunk of city without any kind of lights, filled with easily trippable-over headstones. Eh. We walked in until we couldn’t see anymore, coming across a life-sized bear sculpture sitting on one headstone, a few ‘eternal flame’ monuments without the flames, a number of broken columns, angels, spheres, upside-down torches, etc. etc. etc.

No respect

About an hour in, ducking every time we saw headlights or scurrying behind the nearest monument, Nick started taking pictures. Taking pictures in the dark is sort of great, because both you and whoever’s the subject are both surprised with what happens. Unfortunately the flash blinded us, so there was some stumbling…At one point we did see lights. It was the small cathedral in the middle of the cemetary. We crept in, expecting, well, someone, but it was completely empty. All the lights were on, even the ones in the locked rooms, and pretty organ music was coming from the surrounding speakers.

Greenwood chapel wide

Greenwood chapel
I think this looks like an album cover.

Eventually we got a little creeped out, and we saw headlights coming. We still wanted to see what I described as the cemetary’s gaudiest monument: the grave of John Matthews, inventor of carbonated water and designer of the long-defunct ‘soda fountains’ in the literal sense, which his monument was modelled after. You can read a fascinating article about the man and his gravestone here.

A few minutes walking based on my very vague recollections from a tour taken 3 years ago led us right to it. It’s pretty hard to miss, once you’re in the vicinity. We passed where they used to store the bodies in fall and winter, when the ground was too hard to dig, went around a reflecting pond(with a large sign readong NON POTABLE WATER; well, duh), and climbed up a steep incline. There it was, in all it’s dog-gargoyled hideousness.

After that, we wandered out past the guards who were nice enough to unlock the bathrooms for us. I’m wondering why they didn’t think it odd that 2 hours past closing a bunch of kids just came out of the dark. Maybe we looked friendly. We stopped at a Dunkin’ Donuts for coffee, getting to observe Brooklyn’s population in their natural habitat. I ended up sharing my ‘latte’ with Thomas- mistakenly ordering a ‘large’ I was handed an absurdly ginormous cup filled with caffinated liquid.

Halloween itself was a bit more scattered, but we still ended up seeing loads of awesome costumes. This was the first thing I passed when I went out for the day, and I took it as a good omen:

Bela Lugosi's wax
In addition to their usual Sam Jackson or Whoopie Goldberg statue, Madame Tussad’s put out Bela Lugosi standing apart from the rest of the museum.

Images!

He's a bunny
This is the fellow who works at the Ave. A bookstore that’s more of a hole in the wall(literally). He was a bunny but I thought he was the kid from ‘Gummo’.

shady Nicholas
Shady, shady Nicholas.

Cupcakes!
These are some cupcakes I made. Yep.

Natural Born Killers
Yeah, this movie’s a little over the top but it strongly appeals to my inner-angry 15 year old. I still love it. They’re posing with Nick as Reaganomics holding one of my intertitles.

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