Friday, October 26, 2007


Halloween is fast approaching, but I'm still not filled with the spirit I typically associate with this time of year, and nothing seems to work. For the past week, nearly all of my free-time has been devoted to costume-making, but even that's not enough to compete with the world's insistence that we should begin decking the halls earlier and earlier each year. I love Christmas as much as anyone, maybe even more than most, but that shouldn't distract me from my love of Halloween. The stores fill their aisles with costumes and candy before summer ends, which sounds great, but it's way too early. What are we supposed to do? Spread the Halloween celebration across three months? No, of course not. So we go into stores and we avoid the seasonal section because we don't want to use up our holiday energy too soon. I should never have to hide from Halloween. Let it come when it's ready. Give it a month, maybe a month and a half. That's plenty. By the time I'm actually ready for the big night, everything's being shoved aside to make room for Animatronic inflatable yard snowglobes. The stores aren't the only ones to blame. Turn on the TV and wait for the commercials to start. Look at the movies being advertised: Saw IV? Groovy! Fred Clause? Get outta here! I'm sure it's filled with edgy jokes and pop-culture references that make great holiday fun for the whole family, but it has no place on my screen for at least another month.

Anyway, the DigiPen Student Association provided a glimmer of hope: A costume contest. It wasn't a legitimate Halloween party, but after being the only person at the University of Houston to dress up last year, I was grateful to be a part of a school that cares about the things that really matter.

Unfortunately, a few days ago I came to the conclusion that there was no way I'd be able to finish my costume before the contest. I'm still working on that one (I have some serious doubts it will be done by Wednesday, but I'll talk about that later), so I was left with two options: skip the contest, or suffer the humiliation of going to a costume contest dressed as myself.

At least it beats dressing as a hobo.

Somehow I failed to win. Someday I'll be hailed a genius, far ahead of my time. Tonight however, I only confused people.
But already it was impossible to say which was which.

A bunch of things went wrong here. It's certainly not the best costume I've ever made, but I kinda like it anyway. I wanted to make something quickly without having to buy anything, so I was pretty limited, especially since I don't really have any costume-building tools or materials aside from what I got for my real costume. If you'd like to see the sort of feeling I was trying to recreate with this, check out John K's musings on the subject of old costumes. Tell me you don't want that Soupy Sales costume. Anyway, a few things should be immediately obvious. First of all, my mask is bland. Really bland. It's weird, creepy, and inaccurate, all of which was intentional, but it lacks anything that says, "This is Jake." Also, I think bright pink skin may have been a bit much, though when you have nothing but a box of Crayola markers, your choices are limited. I made it out of papier-mâché on a chicken wire base, with the nose and lips made from wads of newspaper and masking tape.

Jake in progress

Here's something I didn't know: papier-mâché takes forever to dry. It looked like I wouldn't even be able to finish my quick, replacement costume in time for the contest. I finally decided I could wait no more, and wrapped the whole thing in duct tape, then covered that in masking tape so that I'd have a light base on which to draw. I'd like to point out the incredible restraint I've shown by not making any Halloween mask/masking tape puns. I poked some holes in the sides and tied dental floss. Halloween candy makes an exciting treat, but it's always important to keep proper dental hygiene in mind.

So girly, you like roller skatin'? Yeah, everybody loves roller skatin'!

The shirt's not as bad. Again, it's intentionally "off" in a few ways. It's mediocre. It's pretty tough to draw a picture exactly as you want it when your working with Sharpie on T-shirt, especially in low light. I'm still going to wear it twice a week until it's so full of holes the shops with a "No shirt, no service" policy kick me out, but only because anything with even the most remote connection to me is, let's face it, way past cool. You know you wish my picture was on your shirt.

The cape was a towel. I felt that was this costume's greatest success.

There's still plenty of Halloween goodness coming up on JakeyPen, so stay tuned, and in the meantime, see what you can do to boost your own spirit. Watch a horror movie. Make some sugar cookies in the shapes of bats and pumpkins and decorate them to your heart's delight. Smash up every Christmas display you see. Do whatever you think will work for you.

Since you're already here in Internetland, allow me to direct your attention to a few great sites:

The construction method of my costume was heavily inspired by mad genius Rob Cockerham, and even though it's not working out nearly as well as I'd hoped, I'm not going to hold it against him. You can expect plenty of links to as I continue my blog, but for now I'll direct you to the Incredible Stuff page, which consists largely of elaborate costumes. Great stuff.

I'm guessing that most of the kids out there already know that Homestar Runner is the pinnacle of Internet-based cartoons, but the site deserves extra attention during holidays. These aren't quite classic specials on a "Great Pumpkin" level, but they're about as close as we can hope to get in this post-Schultz world. The Toons page says that a new Halloween short should premiere next week. In case I've over-hyped this, I'd like to point out that the comedy is pretty offbeat and quirky, and therefore not for everyone. You'll either love it or be utterly confused.

Before I get to the last one, let me diverge from the Web for a second. If you're the sort who plays video games, horror games are awesome and you should be playing them. If you have a GameCube (or Wii), I'd recommend "Resident Evil" and "Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem." Both great games, and both far better near Halloween.

Finally, the big one: X-Entertainment. Despite having the most unfortunate name on the Internet, this is Halloween Central. Matt, the site's author, is the master of holiday excitement. This is another site that's not for everyone - if you're older than Generation X, you probably won't be interested, but for those of us who want to read reviews of "Halloween is Grinch Night" or learn how to make a Halloween Mood Table, this is the place. Even a Halloween Master struggles with problems I outlined at the start of this post, though, and it's taken a pretty strong effect this year. While he has, in years past, written a Halloween-related article every day for two months, this year, he hasn't done nearly as much. Fortunately, he keeps everything archived. Search the site for the word "Halloween" and kiss your night goodbye. The one thing I think everyone can enjoy is the X-Entertainment Halloween Jukebox. Sixty-six Halloween-themed songs. I'm listening to the Ghostbusters theme right now. To be honest, the only reason I've written as much as I have tonight is that I wanted a reason to continue sitting here listening to it. Ignore the rest of this if you wish, but don't pass the Halloween Jukebox.


Jaime (who's full of sisterly advice) said...

If you should decide to stalk someone, mail them the mask of your face when they start to suspect you. It'll throw them off your trail for at least a few weeks and get them hunting down mutant pig-people instead.

Anonymous said...

I really can't believe you didn't get first place!

Jake said...

Look it up. You'll understand. As always, Wikipedia is your friend.

Anonymous said...

So you're saying you were diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder? Glad to hear it! Diagnosis is the first step toward admitting your problem.