People were asking this week if we get a lot of trick-or-treaters. I wasn’t sure what to say because the truth is I’ve never actually counted — until last night.
In an effort to apply a little science to Halloween, I kept track of how many trick-or-treaters received candy, and took notes on their costumes to see if I could pick out any cultural trend among the local children.
We served a total of 63 trick-or-treaters. There was one adult, who was either dressed as a biker or an S&M enthusiast. I was not sure and did not want to ask.
The greatest number of costumes recorded fall into the category “unknown.” These were either impossible to distinguish by observation, or incomprehensible after explanation. This may reflect a cultural bias on the part of the examiner who is not up on every aspect of pre-teen culture.
A note on methodology. I tried not to ask young kids what they were dressed as. Generally speaking, adults should avoid chatting with young children who come to their door because it’s creepy. When I was growing up, there was one creepy guy who insisted that we do a “trick” to get our “treat.” He clearly misunderstood Halloween, which is about handing out a “treat” so you don’t become the target of a “trick.” I remember walking away flummoxed because I didn’t know any tricks. What a jerk! I hope somebody egged his house.
Anyway, the diversity of costumes was impressive. There were more than 40 different identifiable costume character types represented and it is difficult to establish any sort of pattern. Surprisingly, there was only one vampire — and there were no politically themed costumes. Here are the top costume categories:
||Type of Costume
All of this makes me wish I’d started recording this data ten years ago, because it’s only with that sort of history that you can pick out trends. Expect another blog post like this in 2022.
Life’s too short to waste time with crappy books, so let me help you out. Here are a few things I’ve read lately that you might enjoy.
Zone One by Colson Whitehead Ever since first seeing Night of the Living Dead (at wayyyyy too young an age) I’ve been obsessed with zombies. While Zone One doesn’t really bring anything new to the brain table — these zombies are a lot like those you’ve seen before — it’s much smarter than most horror fiction. It’s not just a thinking person’s zombie thriller, but the story is funny and heartbreaking in equal turn, and really communicates a deep sense of loss.
Ghost Soldiers by Hampton Sides The is the terrific true story of 200 men sent on an impossible mission during WWII: rescue hundreds of starving POWs from a Japanese prison camp behind enemy lines in the Philippines. It’s rife with larger than life characters and heroic acts. You’ll love the Filipino guerrillas who helped pull off the raid. The Japanese? Not so much.
Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World by Mark Kurlansky Yes, I know that sounds ridiculous, but this is a great book. Kurlansky has written several volumes on seemingly mundane things that have had profound geopolitical and economic influence. Cod is no different — and it’s sure to fuel your inner Cliff Clavin with some fascinating anecdotes.
SPOILER ALERT! Didn’t see Walking Dead on 3/11? Stop reading.
On “The Walking Dead” this week, Shane plots to kill his former best friend and the show’s protaganist, Rick Grimes. He lures him away alone and they stop in a clearing. Instead of just shooting Rick, Shane launches into a bunch of chatty nonsense — and WHAM, Rick has the opportunity to shank Shane. This is a prime example of what’s referred to as evil gloating.
Evil gloating, or as Roger Ebert called it, The Fallacy of the Talking Killer, is all about bad guys who can’t shut up — and lazy film and TV writers who lean on the technique to build tension.
Outside of Hollywood, people who are going to shoot you don’t deliver a lecture about what they’re thinking and how you’re going to die. No, they just start shooting. How many people have slipped away thinking, “Hey, wait! You didn’t talk before shooting me!”
No. The real world is cold and brutal and things fly at you without any preamble. Even if you did have a chance, you’re probably not going to foil someone intent on getting you. And you won’t even come back as a zombie to even the score.
Most people did not get what Bill Belichick was doing when he allowed Ahmad Bradshaw to score — hell, even Ahmad Bradshaw didn’t understand until it was too late.
Belichick decided to trade points for time. It was a ballsy thing to do and a calculated risk that did not pay off. And you know what that’s like, don’t you?
So many writers have waxed poetic about baseball, but it’s football that reveals the truth about life. It’s a game of triumph and struggle and tragedy. Pain and glory, winning and losing. It’s a place where perseverence is rewarded — but sometimes it’s just better to be lucky.
And ultimately, as in life, it comes down to the clock.
Now, on to the sideshow. Most of the Super Bowl commercials sucked, but I really liked the Silverado apocalypse commercial, which would have also been interesting with zombies. However, the spot I can’t stop thinking about is the Cat Killing Dorito Dog. The audacity of extending the cat vs. dog trope this far, for the dog to… well watch the commercial:
This made me laugh out loud, the cats storm out of the room, and the dogs give high-fives all around.
There is something about October, isn’t there?
Heating season always means we get lots of fire calls involving carbon monoxide detectors going off. Usually they just malfunction — and they usually malfunction in the dead of night.
I was recently on one of these calls at 2:30 in the morning. We checked all around the house with our meters and found it safe. Another bad detector. “Everything’s fine. It’s probably just broken.”
“Or something else,” replied the homeowner. “We have strange things happen in this house. Things we can’t really explain.”
So at three in the morning I sat alone in the fire station filling out the report. I don’t know if it’s because I stayed up late watching American Horror Story, or that I’ve had zombies on the brain lately, but the thought of “something” setting off carbon monoxide alarms amplified every sound in and around the building.
And it was then that the brave hero of this story rushed nervously to his car.
After watching the season premier of The Walking Dead, I thank God I am not cursed. No, not cursed to live in a post-apocalyptic zombie infested America, but cursed with the need to overanlyze everything.
The internet was buzzing with criticism on Monday morning, with hot debate over every detail of the show’s performances and plot points. They picked apart everything, the same way the show’s zombies dig into their victims. Some did this because they are obsessed, others to discredit the critically acclaimed series as schlock. It’s always cool to dislike things that are popular.
Me? I just watched it and enjoyed it, because I love anything with zombies.
This unwillingness to rip into the show will stop me from ever being a proper geek — but if you ask me, minute analysis can ruin things. For example, look at the entry from the extensive IMDB page on “goofs” in the 2005 version of War of the Worlds:
Errors in geography: When John runs from his home in Bayonne next to the Bayonne Bridge to 5 Corners on Ferry St in Newark he arrives as if he’d just ran around the block. This is impossible. The most direct route from his home to 5 Corners covers a distance of 9 miles, and he would have had to run on the NJ Turnpike and Route 1&9.
Yeah, I suppose that could really spoil the movie for you. You can suspend your disbelief enough to accept that giant alien robots are destroying New Jersey, but not quite enough to get past this Bayonne Bridge business?
There are two possibilities.
1. I prefer my entertainment to simply be entertaining, so I don’t think too much about it.
2. My brain is too small to be so critical.
Let’s hope it’s the small brain. That will make me less attractive to hungry zombies.
Two gallons of hand sanitizer didn’t stop me from getting sick, so as a public service to Times Union readers I’d like to give you a little rundown on how to know if you have the flu.
First, expect some aches and pains. Think of how you’d feel after falling down a flight of stairs —then imagine that the stairs are lined with people hitting you with sticks on the way down. And at the bottom is a guy who squeezes your head in a vise.
Also, gastrointestinal distress is fairly common. It’s like the flu gets inside your body and orders all the food to leave as quickly as possible. This can mean vomiting or diarrhea. Or both. Simultaneously. I was fortunate to only have one of these. Let’s just say the food decided to rush out the back door instead of the entrance.
I’m sorry, was that too much information?
So what do you do if you have the flu? Stay home from work or school. It’s actually sort of refreshing to call in sick when your actually sick, not just pretend sick.
Stay in bed or lay on the couch and watch movies. I watched the 2004 remake of Dawn of The Dead twice, once with the director’s commentary. Seeing all those zombies makes you recognize that there are worse things you could have than the flu —even if you feel like you want Ving Rhames put you out of your misery zombie style.