AI: Halloween

I love Halloween.  When I was young, my folks would set up a haunted house / mad scientist lab in the basement for the neighborhood kids. My brother and I used to put a rubber bat on a pulley in the tree near our sidewalk that I would drop down on unsuspecting passers-by from my bedroom window. I went trick-or-treating waaaaay into my teens.

As an adult, my love for this holiday has not lessened. My wife proposed to me (in front of family and friends) after we had all had a pumpkin carving party. And we got married on Halloween (everyone dressed up, 1920’s style). I am also insanely jealous that Surly Amy is in New Orleans for Halloween this year. They have The Best parade and some of the most creative costumes I’ve ever seen.

What are your thoughts on Halloween? Do you have any fun memories you’d like to share? What was your best costume? What are you going to dress as this year? Can we borrow your kid so we can trick-or-treat and keep the candy?

The ART Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Mad Art Lab community. Look for it to appear Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 3pm ET.

Brian George

Brian George is an illustrator and designer who lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. In his spare time he makes videos of Spirograph drawings and complains about doing laundry. Website: Twitter: @brianggeorge Insta: @brianggeorge If you're into what I'm doing, feel free to throw down a bit in my tipjar here: @brianggeorge

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  1. I have mixed feelings about Halloween. I love the access to all the great monsters and creep, but I also am irritated at the hypocrisy involved in the mass production of it all. Kinda like when the kids in high school who regularly threw food at me started listening to Depeche Mode. Does that make sense?
    Oh, and my kids never eat all their candy. I can mail it to you.

  2. @Skeletal Dropkick: Not quite sure that I know where you are coming from. Do you mean that Halloween was something that was not well known by all and then it became ‘commercial’?

    But I will say this: I will eat any and all candy that you send to me. I will email you my address and then you will send me candy and then I will eat all of the candy.

  3. well, it is kinda like creepy is the rightful domain of the goth and scary belongs to punk. But then there is this one week a year when everyone else co-opts the creep and scary and then when Halloween is over, they go right back to scoffing at the goths. Perhaps this is just a personal hang up of mine 🙂

  4. The thing is, Halloween has been around for much, much longer than either punks or goths (not these goths , the other goths). Folks were dressing in creepy costumes for Halloween long before goth was just coming to be, about 30 years ago.
    But listen, we can go back and forth all day on this, the real question is: Will there be Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups? This is the important question.

  5. oh, I hold no debate on the history of halloween, just the American tradition of revile one segment of society, then jumping at the chance to emulate it 🙂
    Ad for the candy. I am new to this neighborhood, so we will ave to wait and see. But 2 kids + 2 hours of candy extortion should= waaaay more candy than I feel they should be eating …hehehe…

  6. Alright, before I start I have to say thank you, thank you so BLOODY much Brian, for mentioning Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. They showed up for all of a week in stores here in the antipodes, just long enough to remind me how much I love them before they vanished again. Have you ever put them in the fridge or freezer? The chocolate gets hard and it makes them just like eating yummy, yummy bugs: crunchy on the outside and gooey good on the inside. Sigh.

    I miss Halloween, and not because they don’t really celebrate it here. I miss Halloween as it was for me as a child. The anticipation mixed with a little fear, that safe fear that comes from the cartoon spooky, and the excited expectation of a big payoff are the things I miss most. It was an emotional state that I can’t exactly duplicate as an adult.

    The closest I came, appropriately enough for this forum, was gigging with a band. Anticipation and a little fear, this time of sucking rather than having my brains sucked, and the possibility of a payoff in various forms of admiration, most often of the alcoholic variety, produced similar feelings. A little less innocent perhaps, a little more complicated and a whole lot more deafening of course, but similar.

    Strangely, Halloween gigs rarely produced that state. They were fun, lots of fun, but not in that scary/excited sort of way.

    Putting on stage clothes and strapping on a instrument is a form of a, well, not really a costume unless you’re Slipknot or Gwar or what-have-you, but an uniform of sorts. In a small way they distinguish and distance one from the audience and for me that was a good thing. It help quell the nerves, emotional armour if you will. But a Halloween costume not only provides distance from the audience it provides distance from one’s self. The me that got nervous about performing wasn’t entirely present in the person wearing the costume, especially when the whole band did a theme.

    One year we were all road kill zombies, for authenticity’s sake we got jumpsuits and ran them over with a truck on a muddy road. Another year we were Sheiks from the country of Garagastan, including our female drummer. She spent the money and time to glue on a real hair beard one strand at a time, fantastic.

    Halloween gigs are comforting too because every venue in town has something special going that night. The only people who are going to come see you have a reason to be there, and usually it’s because they know or are associated with the band in some way. At least at the level of any band I was ever in.

    Year after year I’d look out and see the same 40 or 50 faces mixed with a random bunch of strangers. Halloween gigs are family gigs, they’re a celebration rather than a commercial endevour.

    Those two things are probably why I don’t remember a single Halloween show where we played badly. Mind you, most of my memories of those gigs were the weird bits. Like the time when I as dressed as Jesus and our singer had a professional quality bullet wound prothesis on his forehead. He didn’t douse it with fake blood until just before we went on stage; he kindly squirted a bit on my hands and feet too. Half way through the set he comes over to tell me that the prothesis is slipping down into his eyes, the blood was dissolving the glue he’d used. We did an impromptu laying on of hands. “Hallelujah! You are healed!” (Un)fortunately he kept the mic next to his face as I pulled the wound off. The sucking, tearing sound that it made went out through the mains at a truly horrifying volume. My vocabulary is beggared by the need to describe that sound, but it was the kind of thing that left people laughing and appalled in about equal measures.

    The other one that immediately springs to mind was when I looked out past the stage lights and thought “Those are the best looking fake boobs I’ve ever seen.” Only upon approaching the bar after the set did I realize that they were in fact real boobs. I didn’t know the woman personally, she was a bit younger than our crowd. I spent the rest of the evening watching how people reacted to her. It was fascinating, and I loved my friends a little more after that because not a one of them treated her any differently than they treated the more conventionally dressed folk.

    As to personal costumes the only one worth noting was when my girlfriend and I dressed up as a strand of DNA. I’m pretty geeky but this one was her idea. It was pretty simple, just black shirt and jeans with halved ping-pong balls for atoms and coloured tape for the bonds. We did the ladder bonds by sewing stuffed socks down one side and putting velcro on the ends so we could join them.

    We went to two parties that night, one with her friends and one with mine. We spent the whole time explaining what we were to her friends but the first person to see us walk in the door at my friends’ said “Look it’s DNA. Do mitosis, do mitosis!” We spent a lot more time with my friends after that. 🙂

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