Monday, November 2, 2009

All Hellos Eve / All Saints Daze

I am sure it is somehow my fault, but Fenya missed being a Hallowe'en baby by a matter of hours, making her arrival on All Saints Day instead. It is close enough that she has already had several Hallowe'en themed birthday parties, which sits just fine with me, although a Samhain birthday has an undeniable resonance.

This year we kept the birthday and Hallowe'en in separate corners, but it still makes for a busy weekend, especially since we were also attending the Edmonton Down Syndrome Society Buddy Walk with our good friends (one might even say buddies) the Wywals on Sunday. Fenya, bless her heart, had her birthday partiers come with us on the walk, which I thought was grand of her.

Afterwards we headed to The Big Mall for the sea lion show and a trip downstairs to see the huge aquarium, touch some stingrays and watch a feeding frenzy. (In the shark tank, not with the cupcakes Audrey baked.)

Hallowe'en itself was, as is often the case, a mixed bag. We team up with our friends the Nicholsons every year, as trick or treating with their daughter Carissa in their downtown neighbourhood is contra-indicated, so they come up to our place and we alternate walking and handing out treats between the moms and dads. This year Colin and I were on the home front, and he never puts a lot of prep into any kind of costume, but he does like to participate,and we can usually improvise something with all the odds and sods we have around here. Using Fenya's prop hands and placing his sweatshirt's hood strategically, he was able to achieve a chilling effect:

Having a dramatic nature, Mr. Tales-from-the-Hood here would keep his hands out of sight at first, then extend a gruesome claw with the candy in it out the door, making a number of trick or treaters seriously reconsider how much they wanted those fun-size Twix and Snicker bars. I heard at least one older kid yell, "Holy crap! Scary!" to one of his friends, which was very encouraging, but the effect never lasted long since Colin would practically giggle with glee over these reactions, and his tittering would kind of break the spell. Still, it was awesome to see him enjoying himself so much.

Glory went with your standard cute devil sort of outfit, although it was cuter before we had to insulate it for outdoor trick or treating, and the plumpness variations ended up making me think of Kirstie Alley in hell, sort of:

Fenya had planned for months to be a dead version of the Wendy's Hamburgers icon. And, no, before you ask, it was not my idea, and no, I don't have any idea where she gets her ideas from, either. That being said, I can't help but feel my dear old dad would find my consternation both familiar and more than a little amusing. Dead Wendy turned out pretty well, even though a lot of people at school mistook her for Zombie Dorothy, which is simultaneously understandable and baffling, oddly enough.

Carissa's costume was The Sock-Hop Ghost, which I thought was another original pick, and even more accessible than Dead Wendy.

Audrey put on her spider-witch outfit to go trick or treating (sans hat due to wind considerations), I threw on my Batman duds to hand out treats, and we were off and running.

A number of people I have talked to have lamented the poor turnout of young ghosts and goblins this past weekend, and our house was no exception. I didn't take a formal count, but if we had more than 40 kids, I would be surprised. Now, I know neighbourhoods aren't as neighbourly as they once were, and a lot of parents prefer to go to the mall for trick or treating because it's warm and so forth. Some people might even have stayed home out of fear of H1N1, or maybe dragged their kids along to a house party since Hallowe'en fell on a Saturday this year, who knows. Regardless, I was pretty disappointed. Notwithstanding the general sissification of parents these days (and I can often be found wearing that label myself), I see Hallowe'en as a social contract: I am trading treats for a chance to see kids from my neighbourhood or thereabouts, dressed up in costumes. It's a chance to say "hi" to some of my neighbours, and for some of the older folks, it is a rare chance to have someone on their step not trying to change their telephone or utility provider. Mall trick or treating is wholly dis-satisfying, especially from the point of view of those handing out the candy to barely costumed children, some barely old enough to walk, others pushed around in shopping carts while their parents expect shopkeepers to just fire candy into the basket as they speed by.

At any rate, the gaps between trick or treaters got longer and longer, and Colin soon asked me if I had tried Arkham Asylum, the new Batman video game. Now, being a fan of the DC cartoons, I was pretty excited about this game, despite not owning a system that can play it. Written by Paul Dini and featuring Kevin Conroy as Batman and Mark Hamill (glee!) as The Joker, I was highly interested in seeing it, and said as much to Colin. Well, in addition to having the software in the car, he also had his X-Box 360, as he often brings it to the group home he works at as an additional incentive or reward for his young charges. A few minutes later he had it set up in the living room and invited me to give it a try.

I picked up the controller, sat down, and realized something a little horrifying:

I was about to play a Batman videogame while dressed as the title character.

Turning to Colin, I said solemnly, "Of course, you can tell no one of this."

When he finally stopped laughing, I got into the game and had a wonderful time. There is a good mix of stealth, investigative and fighting gameplay, and the characters all ring true, from Commissioner Gordon to Harley Quinn, but most especially Batman and The Joker. Highly recommended!

The following day, I asked Jay Wywal on the buddy walk if playing the game in a cape and mask was the high point or low point of nerdity. He gave it some thought, and said "On any other day but Hallowe'en, it would probably be unforgivable, but since it was, it's probably just awesome."

Which is good, because that's kind of how it felt.

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