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Thursday, 12 November 2015

Halloween 2015

Welcome to fright night, Halloween, the time when people dress in costume, throw parties, and receive candy! This year, I helped break in my friends' new house by setting up a Haunted Garage! So come on! Let's find out what Halloween is all about!

Before we get to the main event, I want to take a moment to reflect on Halloween. In North America, Halloween is a very common thing. You can read up on its history in the link I just provided but, succinctly, it began as a combination of practices from a variety of backgrounds, mostly religious, and is now celebrated quite secularly. Every year, my school (whether it be public and secular, or separate and thus Catholic) would have art days, costumed events, and more all dedicated to enjoying the season of Halloween. 

When I was in university, Halloween continued to be something extremely fun to celebrate with my friends. I took the time and made some great costumes! Teen Wolf, Tuxedo Mask, Team Fortress 2 Pyro, Superman, and my friends joined me with some very amazing costumes!

Halloween was such a constant that, until last year, I had not considered life without it. Halloween is very much tied to harvest season, and something more commonly practiced in North America. Sure, others have Dia de Muertos which shares many of the same practices, but Halloween isn't a ubiquitous thing. 

Juliette, having returned to France for some time, has made mention as to how little Halloween participation there is in her country. Like myself, Juliette loves Halloween, costumes, the spirit of fun that goes with it, but France does very little to encourage participation in this holiday. As I looked around, I saw news articles about Muslim people not celebrating the day because it was "not part of their religion".

To each their own, of course, but for myself, I consider Halloween to be a very fun time where children embrace the spirit of fun and creativity, where people can enjoy losing their identity and donning that of someone or something else. I have never had any negativity, nor any spirituality beyond the use of spirit to mean ghost, associated with Halloween and, for many of my friends, it is the best time of year. But again, to each their own.

Well, it seems that I had more thoughts on that than I had previously surmised. Let's move on to the main event!

For the past few years, I have been unable to celebrate Halloween as well as I wanted. Normally, I go to great lengths to make a costume and bring my friends together. But, I have been out of the country, far from friends, and/or I had not had the time to make a good costume. It is interesting how quickly a beloved event can turn sour for me if I do not have the time to properly anticipate and appreciate it. This isn't to say that I have had bad Halloweens lately, in fact they have been nice, but they always seemed like I was showing up late to an event for which I had not prepared.

This year was different. This year, I had time and I was going to have a good time! I had some hurdles to overcome, namely Juliette moving back to France, and the necessity of me moving to another city to find work to get me by until my big career break happened. But, I was with friends, and I wanted to have a good time for Juliette, show her what Halloween will be like when we're together again.

Coming up with a costume was both easy and difficult. It was tough for me to determine what to be, but once I did, finding the materials was quite easy. I decided to go as the Dark Wizard from Futurama, who was loosely based on Tim the Enchanter from Monty Python and The Holy Grail!

While he only makes a minor appearance in Futurama, I love the Dark Wizard for his crazy voice, and his stereotypical portrayal of fantasy wizards. This was my reference, and I think I wore it well!

As with everything, confidence was key. I've been practicing his voice for over a year now and I love devolving into his crazy mannerisms.

With the help of our friends, we decorated the front lawn with tombstones, cobwebs, and even a spooky witch sacrifice! This set the tone as the children approached the garage.

A festive wreath, made by Sarah!

The garage itself was partitioned into several modules, full of fog from our fog machine, each containing something specific and classically Halloween. Alex was dressed as a banana in a lab-coat and was making horrible noises, casting silhouettes of murder and surgery behind a blood-stained cloth. Mike was wearing all black, with red glowing eyes, and he spooked the braver sort who ventured deeper into the garage. There, he would congratulate them on their bravery and mention how it didn't go so well for his last victim! At this point, a spooky floating holographic head appeared screaming in torment, all made possible by the cleverness of our hosts, Skype, a hanging pane of glass, and a laptop computer. 

Finally, the bravest would make their way out the back door, earn a large candy bar, and follow the lycanthropic footprints back toward the street. I tried to take some video tours of them, which you can find here (night view) and here (during the day).

The garage was an instant success! Everyone seemed to really love it! Everyone thanked us for our efforts, and it seems we were well and truly scary. The first person through the garage was an adult woman who walked in without saying a word, and when Mike jumped out at her, she ran away! We had some children seemingly not scared at all, and some teenagers afraid to even go in. It was a lot of fun, and really well done considering it was our first time.

After 9pm, the traffic of children died down so we made our way inside. We watched silly videos and just enjoyed having some time to hang out and have fun!
This was some Uncanny Valley territory right here!

Sarah, complete with bone wings!
Sorcerer Steve
Carolyn, dressed as a Sims character
Dom's Team Fortress 2 Soldier is too good, too good I say!
Michelle must have been using some kind of magic to make every photo of her blurry, haha
Who is that handsome devil?
Old-school pinup model Meredith. Her makeup definitely turned heads!
Obi-Wan? I wonder if you mean Marco?
The next day, while everyone was sleeping, I had to go to work. I'm working at Costco now, just seasonal to help pay the bills, and I had to work at 5am. It was tiring, but I felt good, knowing I had a house full of friends to return to. I was greeted with pancakes, smiles, and after we ate, we took down the decorations. Feeling quite tired, but still having fun, I adopted my second costume, The Dude, Jeff Bridge's character from The Big Lebowski.

People have often told me that I looked like him, but I had never bothered to dress as him before. Borrowing a sweater from my sister, and donning some pajamas, I realized that it is a very easy and quite utilitarian costume! First, you're wearing pajamas, so you are destined to be comfortable. Second, you are The Dude who, by definition, abides, is easy going and relaxed, so there's no need to be stressed. Third, and most important to a non-drinker such as myself, his favourite drink is a White Russian which can easily be replaced by milk. Now, I have an excuse to drink milk all night and not be bothered by the incessant requests to drink alcohol. It is a costume I will have to consider for future events.

My reference
My take
So there you have it, Halloween 2015! Haunted Garage, costumes, candy, and more! I had an amazing time, and was very glad to keep the Halloween spirit alive! I look forward to more costumes and more fun in the future!

Thank you, as always, for reading!

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