Thursday, October 25, 2012

Boo! Four supremely esoteric Halloween costume ideas for your consideration.

Halloween 2012 is less than a week away and the weekend is even closer. For anyone planning on participating in some All Hallows Eve festivities it is definitely crunch time for getting those costumes in order. I would like to clarify that this point that when I am referring to getting costumes in order I mean using resourcefulness and your innate sense of imagination to assemble a getup that is an original expression of yourself. I am also mainly focusing on costumes that are references to other things, mostly pop culture, cause well that's sort of my bag; but I'm for any costume that expresses creativity. Also I am not the biggest fan of the walking pun costume but I admire a good one when I see it; truth be told I actually may be leaning towards a pun costume this year.

I absolutely do not mean going out and buying some overpriced, Chinese exported, ill fitting, prefabricated sack of colorful flammable rags from some crowded party supply store. Frankly if you're the sort of person who purchases their entire sense of self expression comes from a mass produced plastic bag, I can't imagine I actually know you as a person since I would likely avoid associating with people who lack such creativity and generally souls.

For all those procrastinators, the indecisive, and the not yet inspired looking to put together their holiday attire I figured I'd throw out a few extra esoteric costume ideas I had bouncing around in my head, free of charge to anyone interested, like a fun sized Mounds bar or a razor blade filled apple. 

Now as someone whose Halloween costume track record has steered mostly towards the obscure over the years I just wanted to note some of the benefits of taking the road less traveled when picking costume ideas. The main overarching pro for going esoteric is that it makes you an original. It's hard to a be an original in this post modern day and age and especially on Halloween; and anyone who can really pull of a unique look should take great pride in it. It's fun being PSY but the joy is going to be a tad diminished when there's like 5 of you on the train at the same time. Another benefit of going esoteric is that if you do end up being an original, you become by default the best example of your costume. Could my 1964 Barry Goldwater costume two years ago have been a bit more historically accurate? Sure. Could my hair have been colored better? Of course. Was I probably the best Barry Goldwater in all of New York City that night? Most definitely. If you're going to be Bane you have to compete with that really serious jacked guy who actually shaved his head. The final benefit to going esoteric is that while you will most likely have to explain yourself to everyone you meet, the supreme joy you feel when someone actually gets your costume on their own is immeasurable. You might as well become best friends with them or if the situation fits propose to them right there because you may have just found your soul mate. I remember dressing up as the one eyed, asian, Russian roulette moderator at the end of the "Deer Hunter" years ago and literally one of the last persons I met that entire long night immediately got my character. I admit our marriage only lasted a few years, but the split was amicable and we still remained friends.  

Manny Fraker from Death Wish 3

Playing Gavin O'Herlihy's comically evil gang leader from the ultra violent, Reagan era snuff film, "Death Wish 3" will take some degree of dedication since you will have to shave (or somehow simulate) that ridiculous reverse mohawk. However, if you are bold enough to pull it off, rest assured, there will be no confusion over who you are. I am pretty sure that hairstyle has never been reproduced in the history of cinema. Once you get the hair and silly gang paint you're essentially done, the rest is pretty easy, just some generic 80's street gang attire, which basically means dressing like a standard hipster with maybe a leather jacket. You can even do a group costume with friends as other gang members, just as long as they have the matching "gang sign". I call the Giggler

Tan Shoes With Pink Shoelaces

This costume idea is one that perhaps some of the older Baby Boomers might appreciate. The entire costume is laid out in irresistibly catchy form by 13 year old Dodie Stevens on her famous #3 hit from 1959, "Pink Shoelaces". In the song she sings about her wildly eccentric boyfriend Dooley who has quite an idiosyncratic fashion sense. As the chorus lays out, he wears "tan shoes with pink shoelaces, a polka dot vest and man oh man...and a big Panama with a purple hat band"; it couldn't be any simpler. A real life rendition can be seen in this awkwardly charming homemade music video that goes to show that not all modern teens are sexting each other and doing bath salts (some are reenacting forgotten pop songs from the 50s). On a side note, I just realized right now creepy it was that Dooley, who was apparently old enough to enlist in the army, was dating a 13 year old.

Take That Ridiculous Thing Off Guy From UHF

To characterize the humor in the Weird Al Yankovic cult film "UHF" as lacking subtly is about as gross an understatement as saying the Sahara is lacking moisture. Nearly every joke and definitely all the acting by Weird Al is about as nuanced as a rocket launcher to the face. However, my all time favorite joke in the whole film, and the only one that legitimately caught me by surprise was the above scene where evil network president RJ Fletcher tells his one lackey, who shows up with a garish new hat, to "take that ridiculous thing off" only to have him unexpectantly take his mustache off. I also really appreciated the length of the set up for that joke, for the first half of the movie the guy always appeared with a mustache. In any case, the costume is not difficult at all: get yourself a suit, steal a hat from José Eber, slap on a fake mustache, and hope to God that you run into someone who is enough of a "UHF" fan to tell you take that ridiculous thing off. If will end up becoming the crowing moment of both your lives.

The Dylan Farnum Look

Any opportunistic twenty something could lazily piggyback on cheap 90s nostalgia by putting on some shorts and a green vest and going as everyone's favorite Nicktoon every man Doug Funnie. However, for the those who want to obnoxiously take it to the next level of obscurity, they should dress exactly like Doug but explain to anyone that points out their costume that they are in actuality just a random resident of Bluffington wearing the Dylan Farnum look. For those not familiar this, it is a reference to the Doug episode "Doug En Vogue" (which is apparently available in its entirety on the Nick website) where the star of a popular teen drama, Dylan Farnum, appears in an episode wearing Doug's exact outfit which in turn leads to everyone at school dressing like him and Doug trying in vain to explain to everyone that he has always worn this outfit and isn't copying Dylan Farnum. As a bonus alternative, you could also dress up in the crazy outfit Doug comes up with halfway through the episode when he tries to create a new ensemble that no one could possibly accuse him of copying only to have Judy show him that it's actually a real look called "The Schizo" (good luck trying to get that medallion that just says "RAP").

I realize now as I finish up that all the examples above are based on male characters. I personally encourage all woman readers to try their own female variations on the ideas above. I'm all for a little gender bending. Additionally, if you want to "slut up" the costumes a bit, as it is apparently the trend nowadays with female costumes, I suggest you just go down two sizes, replace the pants with hot pants, and unbutton most of the top buttons.

Happy Halloween everybody!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

It Doesn't Mean Squat

Well now that the final Presidential debate of the 2012 elections in over, I can finally give my, highly anticipated, detailed, arch overview of the candidates and the election thus far; just in time for the critical final two weeks before Election Day. Now I want everyone to know that, despite its warts, I hold the American democratic process in high esteem and consider our nation's two hundred plus year history of free elections and steady transitions of power to be an under appreciated minor miracle in and of itself. I understand that for this process to be optimal we need an informed electorate that is well aware of the important issues of the day with a thorough, unbiased, understanding of the stances of all parties involved. With that high ideal in mind, I will attempt to give my personal take on this election as a whole.

You know what actually I just want to note how this article I came across last week about a lady who is forced to live with a squatter in her home felt like a romantic comedy set up (I'm actually starting to dig these false starts, too bad I'll have to stop now before they start becoming predictable). So anyway the gist of the article mentions that the owner of a house in Detroit had left her home for an extended period of time so that it could undergo extensive repairs, but when she came back some other lady had made herself at home. There's a whole legal battle over whether the home was actually abandoned by the former and in the mean time the original owner and her child  has to live with the alleged squatter (who according to the article is also running a write in campaign for I guess that's some election related coverage right there).

Obviously if you want to convert this situation into a standard romantic comedy, you switch one of the genders around, give both individuals wildly conflicting personalities, close the lid and shake for 90 minutes. While you're at it you might as well age the kid up a bit and make them cute and freakishly precocious  Eventually after three acts of conflict you have them acknowledge that they truly belong together. I suppose the classy example of this sort of set up of people being forced to live together would be Neil Simon's "The Goodbye Girl". However I admit the movie I thought about first was the atrocious "What Happens in Vegas", a movie so derivative and cliche and encompassing all that is wrong with the genre that it almost looks like a parody of a bad romantic comedy (the scene in the trailer where Judge Dennis Miller sentences Diaz and Kutcher to 6 months of "hard marriage" just about sums it up).

As for the title, it's still a work in progress. In addition to the above title I have off the top of my head "The Squatter's Right" and "Squat to Trot".

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Chart It!

My dear friends, I have a confession to make. I have been lying to each and every one of you. Every word that I have ever communicated to you has been a carefully crafted deception intended solely to manipulate. I have knowingly, indeed gleefully, violated whatever degree of trust you thought existed between us and made gullible fools of you all merely for my own selfish personal amusement.

Well, actually all that was an extreme exaggeration. What I did do was little personal exercise for fun with my facebook "friends". For about the same random, inexplicable reason I decided to chart the punctuation of all my last facebook birthday greetings, I thought I'd play a little game with my status updates.

It all started back on September 13th when I threw out a random observation I had about the snack I was eating at work ("For me string cheese always seems to taste better after its been strung. I think the pulling apart process unlocks some special flavor element. I have no hard proof of this so I guess it's just string theory."), it tallied a modest 3 likes and a comment from my pool of friends. Now I'm not a real heavy user of facebook. I probably check it about a couple times a day, use it to receive and send out invitations, and of course relay new blog entries (like this one right now). I usually stay away from the status bar. However the next day I felt compelled to throw another quick observation out there ("'Innocence of Muslims' has got to be the worst received film ever. Even the violent protests over 'Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2' was less wide spread."). 

It was after that I decided to see how far I could keep this streak going. I committed myself to throw out one quick status update a day as long as at least one person liked or commented on it. Considering I was just tossing up whatever esoteric thought I had in my head around lunchtime at work, I figured this activity would last like a week tops. Interestingly enough, despite a few close call days, it actually lasted exactly one entire month from September 13th to October 13th after my criticism about the new Kevin James movie ("Here Comes The Shamelessly Derivative Kevin James Movie") had as poor a debut as the movie itself (though if you ask me, this is the kind of feel good, PG, movie that just sticks around for weeks and becomes a sneaky hit).

Some quick takeaways from all this:
  • If I were to give an official name to the activity I was engaging it, it would be "like fishing". I just threw a line out there and later checked to see what nibbles I caught. Some days were more prolific than others and it was often surprising the random people that would give up a like.
  • Related to that, there is no way to predict how any update will go over. It's an exercise in futility to predict who will like a certain update; also why are you taking updating so seriously?  
  • Facebook "likes" are extremely devalued. They may very well be the weakest form of human contact so no need to get too excited. Can anyone think of a more insubstantial way to acknowledge a person's existence? There is almost no message or significance attached to it other than I suppose at least mild agreement with someone's update message. Compare that to the complex and heavy connotations of the old Facebook "poke".
  • Since likes are so casual, it is more difficult to avoid someone giving an update a like; unless you're one of those inane people who update the most mundane details of their daily lives like when they're going to bed or if they're going on a run. In that case most of your friend have likely long since blocked you on their feed.
  • Although likes are inherently of little value, the quantity of likes may indicate substantial value. Certain thresholds of likes are usually indicative of substantial updates. I never broke double digit likes during my month and I shouldn't have given how pointless my updates were. But, a new baby update or a graduation post or even some indirect call for sympathy from your friends during a difficult time should garner at least double digit likes. With further research I'm sure someone could make a scale of minimum likes (ex. babies = 15, marriages = 25, etc.) factoring in for total amount of friends.
  • Comments to status updates are worth at least two possibly three likes. When someone comments that they wish they could like an update more than once, they have done the equivalent by commenting. It's a huge barrier to cross to actually write something in response to someone. 
  • Facebook has the potential to be a tremendous waste of time. 

As for any future status updates from me, I will be going back to my usual schedule of "whenever the mood strikes me", although now that I've made everyone completely self conscious of their liking behavior I'm not really sure what to expect in terms of future likes. Good thing all this really doesn't matter much. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Crunchy Numbers

Today I noticed that it was almost the middle of the month and I hadn't posted anything yet. Then I remembered that way back at the end of last year, in a fit of irresponsible ambitiousness, I set a personal goal for 100 posts for the coming year. Currently my 2012 total stands at an underwhelming 22 entries down; still 78 entries away from my quota. I looked up the amount of days in the year and interestingly enough it turned out to be...78 days.

Now if you believe that by that above observation I am implying that I am going to set off on a prolific rush of updating at a rate of at least one post per day; I have to seriously question if you really know me at all. I'm not saying it's completely out of the realm of possibility but it is most definitely a long shot. If I were to aggressively attempt to hit my numbers I would have to really readjust the old quantity/quality ratio around here. It's not like what I was banging out were New Yorker think pieces or anything but things would have to get reduced to the most shallow and inconsequential of fleeting personal musings. Essentially it would become a Tumblr. I have too much respect for myself and you dear reader to take that sort of shortcut. I will however put more of an effort going forward with the rest of the year to contribute more to this space at a better rate than I've done so far. 25 entries? 50 entries? 100 entries (hey, this post itself has already kept me on pace)? Who knows?

If anyone wants to throw out a total number for the end of the year, you have until the end of this week to get it to my attention. The closest number without going over (we're using "Price is Right" rules) will get an unspecified, completely arbitrary prize from me of unknown value!