Halloween Postmortem, 2010

I spent Halloween this year as I have many others: sugar-high and wide awake in bed, staring at the ceiling until 4 AM, and vowing to rid the world of the evil geniuses behind Banana Laffy Taffy. That stuff seriously needs to stop existing. The first nation to weaponize Banana Laffy Taffy will have its boot on the throat of the world.

Prior to that we were at the home of our friends on Capitol Hill, as has become our tradition in recent years (2008, 2007). They live in the epicenter of a three block area that kind of goes nuts for the holiday, giving out obscene amounts of candy, larding their homes with decorations, and even setting up special attractions such as “Haunted House!” and “Dude Dismembering Other Dude with a Chainsaw on the Front Lawn!” (Protip if you decide to do DDODwaCotFL: using a real chainsaw makes for great sound effects, but also leaves your entire home cloaked in a incapacitating cloud of gasoline fumes. That’s still less toxic than Twizzlers, admittedly.)

Squiggle went as a fireman.


I wanted to dress as something that would go along with his outfit, but– okay if we were talking in person, this is the moment where I would shout “not a dalmatian!” because you’d be opening your mouth to say “dalmatian” and I only wear my dalmatian costume to Special Conventions, thanks.

I considered going as a burning building, but I was worried people would get the wrong idea (although it probably would have been fine, so long as I wasn’t clutching toy airplanes in my hands). Then I considered going as a “In Case of Emergency Break Glass” box. Then I realized that it was 5:43 PM on October 31st and we were late for our friend’s house.

In the end I decided to go as Sexy Technical Writer. All I had to do is wear my work clothes.


We took Squig trick-or-treating for about an hour, threw him in bed, and then manned the battlestations for the remainder of the evening. Overall we had somewhere in the vicinity of 1500 visitors, as evidenced by this photo in which you can make out nothing whatsoever:

Street Crowd

Lots of witches this year, perhaps to compensate for Christine O’Donnell’s loss. Lots of Iron Men. Lots of pre- and post-adolescent girls with kitty ears and whisker facepaint. In fact, the latter was in such abundance that I’m going declare “cat” to be “not even a costume anymore”. Halloween Cat Costume joins the ranks of Christmas Target Gift Card as the hallmark of someone who’s not even trying.

Fortunately, there was no shortage of unMAZING costumes as well. This was my favorite:

Toaster: Before

Toaster: After

Here is an eyeball. And a board game.



This girl had both a beautiful costume and a comical series of mishaps while on our porch. She accidentally dumped out some of her candy, and then accidentally dumped out the rest of her candy while bending over to retrieve the previously dumped candy, and the whole debacle culminated in her ripping off her own arm after ensnaring a claw in a giant artificial spider web. Imagine The Little Mermaid as directed by Lars von Trier.

Crab (?)

I dislike the trend of young girls dressing as sluts for Halloween. That said, I am perfectly fine with them dressing as S.L.U.T.s.


Here is Shaun White. And his snowboard.

Shaun White & Snowboard

These kids showed up on the porch and I said “are you John F. Kennedy and Jackie O?” and they said “yes”.

JFK & Jackie

That happened exactly one time, by the way: where I thought (but wasn’t sure) I knew who a youngster was supposed to be, and hazarded a guess, and was right. Every other time I’d be like, “are you Harmony from the Bugaloos?” and the kid would roll her eyes and deign to inform me that, no, she was some tertiary character from book 9 of a 21 novel fantasy/anime/horror/romance series for young adults that I had never heard of, after which I would promptly die of old age.

Wait. I take that back. There were a few other kids dressed in recognizable (to me) outfits:


This group played “Let’s Get Physical” on a Walkman the size of a briefcase and performed a jazzercise routine for our benefit. We gave them all the remaining candy and some wine coolers.

All and all another successful year, if success is measured by the number of candy wrappers I pulled out of my jacket pocket during a work meeting the following morning. (Seriously, I was like a magician producing scarves.) And if I start now, I can probably complete that burning building costume in time for Thanksgiving. Good times.


The Pinnacle

Over on reddit, someone asked users to recount their “best one-liner moments“. This is easily mine:

I was in a high school humanities course, and the philosophy instructor was talking about the “essence” of things. For example, he said that a clock which stopped telling time could no longer be considered a clock, because the telling of time is the “essence” of clockness.

After giving a few more examples he plucked an empty paper cup from his desk, ripped out the bottom, and held it aloft. “What about this?” he asked the class. “Is this still a cup? I would say not.”

To which I replied, “I’m sorry, but I just don’t think your argument holds water.”

Pretty much the pinnacle of my career as a smartass.

I Find It Kind of Funny, I Find It Kind of Sad

A friend loaned me his copy of MadWorld for the Wii. Fun game, but ridiculously, comically, waaay-over-the-toply violent. If Congress ever sees this game they will outlaw pixels.

It’s so bad that I’ve been hiding it from my wife like porn, playing it only when she’s elsewhere in the house. Which has led to some awkward moments.

I frantically fumble with the remote control as The Queen enters the living room.

               The Queen
       What's with all the chainsaw noises and
       "motherfuckers" out here?


Tears and Gears

I just watched The Road while on the trainer. If the biathlon was “cycling and sobbing”, I’d be in Canada right now wearing a bronze at least.

While consoling me immediately afterward, The Queen said, “I am not laughing because you are crying. I am laughing because you smell terrible.”

The Point is Prob’ly Moot

I’m not sure who should be more embarrassed in this scenario: the auto mechanic for leaving the car stereo set to “Warm 106.9” when returning my Corolla, or me for listening to the station on the drive home and, upon hearing “Jessie’s Girl” classified as a “Soft Favorite”, exclaiming “that’s fucking BULLSHIT!!

Ice Cycle

I just went for a bracing winter bicycle ride and am now hella braced.

One interesting thing about rides this late in the year is that you find yourself simultaneously sweating profusely and chilled to the bone, a condition that otherwise only occurs if you (a) have contracted hypothermia or (b) are reading a Stephen King novel while fireside.

It was especially difficult to ride so soon after the Thankgiving, as my legs, which used to contain muscles and bone, are now packed with four days worth of pumpkin pie filling.

Haircut 2.0

I got a professional haircut today. This was my first since … oh, dunno. Like May of 2003, I reckon? (Yay blog)

When I told the stylist on the phone that I hadn’t been to a barber in six years, she gasped in alarm. “I don’t have six years of hair,” I added. Even so, she continued to sound flummoxed. I think the mere idea that someone would go for so long without an authentic haircut was, to her, like someone going six years without bathing, or having never seen en episode of Gossip Girl (of which I am also guilty (the not showering thing, I mean–love that Gossip Girl)).

I received much the same reaction when I arrived at the salon. You know that scene in suspense movies, where the guy who has been shot twice in the abdomen staggers into an emergency room and the staff like shoves aside elderly people with pneumonia and rush to his aid? It was kind of like that, except with less exaggeration for comedic effect.

They wouldn’t even give me a haircut at first; I had to go through a “consultation”. The stylist who drew the short straw came out and asked me a number of questions only slightly less than that found on the LSAT. To each I provided the same reply: “just do whatever you think is best.” At one point she even asked me if I wanted “a clipper and scissors cut or just clippers” and I explained that this was like me asking my grandfather if he wanted his email delivered via POP or IMAP. Haha, just kidding. Actually I said, “just do whatever you think is best”.

(ASIDE: My sextennial haircuts are not the only time this drives me nuts. When I go into a deli, why can I not just order a turkey sandwich and get a g.d. turkey sandwich, instead of having to approve or deny each and every member of kingdom Plantae? NO ONE WANTS BUTTERNUT SQUASH ON A TURKEY SANDWICH DONT EVEN ASK!! I appreciate that they are trying to “make it my way” or whatever, but after the third time I have unconditionally delegated any and all turkey-sandwich-making authority to the guy behind the counter, it’s time for the questions to end. Call me crazy, but I presume that someone who makes sandwiches eight hours a day has a mental model of “turkey sandwich” that is closer to the Platonic ideal of Turkey Sandwich than I could ever fathom, and should therefore be Team Captain for this particular enterprise.)

Eventually the stylist put me in a reclining chair and lowered the back of my head into a basin, and I began to worry that there might be some waterboarding in my immediate future if I didn’t cough out some specifics, so I said, “give me the most stylish haircut I can have and not get fired from my corporate job”, and then she kind of went blank for a moment, apparently querying the Stylist Hivemind Database, and when she returned a moment later she said, “okay, I’ve got it”, and that was the end of the questions. Then I got a scalp massage. So it all worked out.

By the way, I didn’t go to the appointment completely unprepared. Yesterday I had this conversation with my wife:

Me: How should I get my hair cut?

The Queen: I like it short on the sides and a little long in the front. And short in the back.

M: Okay.

Q: And you look good with a beard. Like, not a full beard, but a closely cut beard.

M: …

Q: What?

M: You are just describing that photo.

Q: What photo?

M: The photo on the fridge. Of me, in the tuxedo, from that wedding? In like 1998? The only time in my life I have ever had a beard?

Q: Oh yeah. I guess I am.

M: So to be clear: you are not giving me actual haircut suggestions, you are just saying that you want me to look 10 years younger.

Q: That would be perfect, yes.

Update: Jeezum crow, the blogarazzi got aggressive in my absence. HERE YOU GO JACKALS!!


For reference, this is what it looked like three weeks ago:

So I’m going to call it an improvement.

Yes, I am well aware that I need to write a Halloween postmortem.

Eighth Wonder

I glanced up from my laptop to find my five-year-old son standing nearby, gripping a bottle of Elmer’s glue. He had removed the cap and was holding the container upside down, watching, fascinated, as the viscous white substance drooled into a ever-growing pool on the kitchen floor.

“What are you doing?!” I barked. “Put that down!”

He jumped, startled, and then hastily complied. After dropping the bottle–still uncapped, still upended–into the utility drawer from whence it had come, he slammed the drawer shut and took two steps backwards, thus positioning himself in the center of the pool. His socks began soaking up yet more glue, adding to the astonishing quantity already smeared on his shirt and hands.

“Nooo, arrgh!” I yelled, sprinting to the drawer. By the time I had jerked it open an entire corner had become an impromptu lagoon, swamping ballpoint pens, rubber bands, pads of Post-It notes, and unused gift cards. I grabbed a handful of paper towels and thrust them into the morass; a moment later, when I withdrew the wad, half of the contents of the drawer came with it.

Now thoroughly exasperated, I turned to find the kid, already writing a legendary harangue in my head. He was few feet away, nonchalantly drinking orange juice. Just as my eyes settled on him, the plastic cup suddenly slipped from his grasp. It hit the floor and spun as it rebounded, splashing juice everywhere.

Yes: he’d managed to drop the cup despite having hands coated in glue.

Occasionally parenthood offers moments of religious awe, when the anger and frustration melt away and are replaced by reverence, a profound appreciation for the primal forces of chaos so poorly contained within your progeny.

Children are a marvel, like the aurora borealis with scissors.

Revenge is Also Best Served Cold

Allan, a friend of mine in college, was in a neverending battle with the folks who lived in the dorm room adjacent to his. I never knew the specific dispute, but it was probably noise-related–his room and theirs shared a wall through which sound passed unimpeded.

One evening I stopped by Allan’s place as I headed off-campus. He and his neighbors had just had some sort of altercation, and he was livid as a consequence. Before we left he cued up the following track on his CD player and hit play. Then he turned the speakers around so they faced the shared wall, turned the volume up to 8, and set the stereo on “repeat track”. “Okay,” he said, “let’s go.”

When we returned several hours later, the music was off and his door was broken.