Saturday, November 1, 2008


If you saw my Batman post, you probably guessed that I'm a sucker, not only for masks and costumes, but for Hallowe'en in general. I've always enjoyed Hallowe'en and I have fond memories of Hallowe'ens past, from my childhood days. I think it was my second-favorite celebration, next to Christmas. It wasn't just the candy. The colours, the costumes, the lights ... when you think about it, Hallowe'en caters to all the things that kids love best.

Hallowe'en was different when I was a kid. I lived in a neighborhood with lots of kids, where every family knew each other. Our parents didn't accompany us when we went trick-or-treating. Instead, we kids made the rounds in bands of four to eight (usually). We observed some common-sense rules, and there was safety in numbers. Today, this would be unthinkable, I know, but back then it would have been unthinkable to us to have our parents following us around. Part of the fun of Hallowe'en was the freedom that came with roaming the night streets with your friends.

The picture above is of my sister and I, with my best friend (to this day), Martin (affectionately known as "Mart"), and his sister Christine, preparing to make our annual trick-or-treat rounds. I'm the magician, on the left. The costume was home-made by my mom. She made the hat out of black bristleboard. Mart, of course, is the Prince of Darkness.

Some years later, during our teenage years, Mart and I made ourselves Star Wars costumes (see the picture to the right). I'm Darth Vader, and he's Boba Fett. Bet you didn't know that Boba Fett is actually taller than Darth Vader. It's the camera angles that make Vader look taller in the movies.

Darth Vader is another one of my favorites, where masks are concerned. I made the one in the picture mainly out of bristleboard, except for the eye pieces, which were simple sunglass lenses, and the helmet, which was a kid's toy police helmet or army helmet or something like that, painted black. The sloped flange is, again, bristleboard. Mart made Boba Fett's helmet and rocket launcher out of paper maché. The costumes are, admittedly, a bit crude, but not bad for homemade efforts.

Nowadays, I usually carve the jack-o-lanterns that we put out on Hallowe'en. This year, I decided to get a bit fancier and carved a design using a pattern that I downloaded from That's it to the left (you can click it for a larger view). I think it came out pretty well. Complex designs like this one take a surprisingly long time. This one took me about four hours before I was done.

I did two jack-o-lanterns this year, and there's a story behind the second one. We'd had problems with kids egging our house last summer. Now, I'm an easy-going guy and kids will be kids, so the first couple of times that it happened I shrugged it off. But it started happening more and more often until, at its peak, we were getting hit at least twice each weekend. Once they even hit us a 3 in the morning. At that point, I started to get annoyed.

Well, to make a long story short, I hid myself inside a big old pine tree one evening and almost caught one of them when they came along (lucky for him, I slipped on a patch of wet grass and he was able to get around me) but that pretty much put an end to things. We didn't even have any incidents the night before Hallowe'en ("devil's night") although I did half-expect that we might. Anyway, just to show the kids that I do have a sense of humour, in the event that they came by, I found myself a white pumpkin, cut it in half with a jaggedy line to make it look like an egg that had been cracked in two, and carved the words "NO TRICKS" into it. I wish I could have found a more "egg-shaped" pumpkin, but this was the best I could do.