Saturday, October 30, 2010
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Monday, October 18, 2010
RAMJOE and I recycled Buzz Lightyear's cardboard undies for the Ironman armor. They still fit because Little P was out of diaper by that Halloween. This was the first year that he made it the mile around the block. With shoulder rides of course.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Friday, October 15, 2010
Oh look! I have a kid of my own.
With the impending release of King Kong to cineplexes across the globe, Little P and I went around the block as King Kong and the Empire State Building. He lasted five houses.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
I was too busy for Halloween after 2000. It'd have to wait until I had kids of my own.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
By 1998, I had met the future Mrs. Penn. We both worked at the movie theatre with A LOT of characters. Either Halloween1998 or 1999 we both had to work on Halloween night. One of the biggest characters to work at the movie theatre (who both still love to this day) is “DOORMAN DAVE” (not to be confused with Star Wars cover artist Dave Dorman.)
We had the standard movie theatre uniform at the time (white collared shirts, paisley vests, black bow ties, and black pants/shoes) but DOORMAN DAVE was still able to put his unique stamp on it. So I dressed up as DOORMAN DAVE: Transparent white shirt, V-neck under shirt, baseball cap fastened to belt loop, combed-back hair, and “dress sandals” with black socks.
DOORMAN DAVE is also the inspiration for the main bad-ass/ villain in “Codename: VooDooChyl’”
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Monday, October 11, 2010
RAMJOE was a Power Ranger THREE YEARS IN A ROW!
After being Robin TWO YEARS IN ROW!
Once he finds something he likes, he sticks with it. Mom sewed the costume herself, RAMJOE already had the belt/glove/weapons. I made the helmet from a plastic fish bowl.
The following year, he was the Red Ranger with a gold shoulder/chest piece that mom had sewn together. The year after that, he was some kind of Ninja Ranger which looked completely different.
Again, sewn by mom.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
By the time I retired from trick-or-treating, I was already too old to even think about dressing up. But I couldn’t stop.
I thought it would be cool to dress up as Clark Kent. It seemed like a brilliant thought at the time (with the advent of the internet, it seems that I’m not alone in this observation.)
It’s the perfect cover. If it works for Superman, why can’t it work for me? It’s the one day of the year I dressed a little fancier for school and nobody realized I was in a costume; I could still participate undercover, incognito. Some years I wore a jacket, some years I wore the glasses. In 1995, I got my first (and only) high school job and by, 1996 I was attending the Halloween parties of co-workers.
Saturday, October 9, 2010
This was it! The absolute last Trick-or-treating I would ever do! I was officially a teenager, and it was time to retire. The only thing stopping me from getting out of this game was One.
It was perfect: we’d hit a completely different neighborhood! If I felt any embarrassment, it was okay because no one would recognize me.
For this final outing, I went with Chuck and Matt Stephens in their neighborhood. I’m not sure what Matt was, but Chuck was a Green Beret (sporting a Red Beret, natch!) and I was a nerd (soooo ironic!) I had the wet butt-cut hair with an Alfalfa sprout sticking up in the back, nerd glasses and jacked-up pants thanks to some small suspenders.
Things were going great. Chuck’s outfit cracked me up throughout the night and still brings a smile to my face as I type this. But all good heist stories have a snag. One of the last doors we hit, was answered by a girl. Not just any girl, she was the one I had a crush on in 4th grade. Those “feelings” resurfaced after lying dormant for years (maybe 3 tops) for the minute it took for her to shovel out the candy. It was just long enough to shame me into retiring for good.
Friday, October 8, 2010
No, I did not have a particular love of former Soviet Head of State Mikhail Gorbachev, but I was running out of ideas for Halloween costumes. C’mon, I was twelve years old and shouldn’t even be trick or treating. I was a middle schooler. There was no way I was going to dress up like a super hero. RAMJOE could get away with that (he was an upgraded Tim Drake Robin) but I sure as hell wouldn’t even dare!
Being in middle school meant that I didn’t have to ride home with my mom anymore (she taught at the next door elementary school) so I was officially a bus rider. I had made two friends on the bus who lived in my neighborhood: David Lockheart (a 7th Grader) and Ed Smith (big enough to be an 8th Grader.) They were already going trick-or-treating and asked if I wanted to come along. I don’t even remember what they dressed up as, but probably something uninspired (Skate board zombie and football player?) I went as former Soviet Head of State Mikhail Gorbachev.
The Wall had fallen down recently and he was all over the news. My mom had found a cheap little clown mask in Walgreens. My best costumes were always her idea. It was the cheap plastic mask with that lousy rubber band in the back. It only covered the top half of your face and had a kind of bald cap, with hair on the side, and built in glasses. We gave it a haircut, painted the forehead flesh-colored, and added Gorbachev’s “unmistakable” palm-tree shaped birthmark on his head.
When I met up with Ed, he asked, “Who are you supposed to be?” as he yanked my mask and sling-shot it back at my face. The edge of my mask scratched my real forehead and as I sweat throughout the night, this little injury burned a whole lot worse than it should have. Ed wasn’t the only person who didn’t know who I was. I had to explain to every house we visited who I was. When people “got it” they thought it was funny. But standing around explaining it to people always put me a house behind the other guys.
A fun time for all involved.
Bat-mania struck at just the right age for me. I was 11 when the first Tim Burton Batman movie was released and Batman merchandise was all over the place. The thought that still lingers with me today, was that EVERYBODY I knew went to go see this movie. On the Friday that it opened, I remember my grandparents stopping by the house. They gave me a brochure with all of this awesome looking Batman stuff on it. I asked where they got this from and they flat out told me: the movie theater. My Grandparents had seen this movie before me!?! They weren’t even fans! I had been collecting a couple comics and toys, drooling over commercials and tacking the movie trading cards to a cork bulletin board in my bedroom. This was the first movie I remember getting psyched for.
The following Saturday, I got to see it for Kevin Stafford’s 11th birthday. We sat in the front row (the equivalent of IMAX today.) I’d like to say that seeing the movie was transformative. I’d like to say that I walked out of that movie a different person than when I walked in.
But I can’t. The seeds of nerdom had been planted long ago. But this movie was like WATER, SUNLIGHT, MIRACLE GROW, and STEROIDS all rolled into one. I walked out a bigger nerd.
To make matters worse, the local Fox affiliate (Fox13 or Fox 17 at the time) ran the Adam West Batman every night. By Halloween 1989, my brother and I were equally fanatical about Batman and Robin. And Warner Brothers wouldn’t let up: Batman Returns, Batman the Animated Series, Batman Forever, Etc.) Not to mention that the gaps between these movies were filled with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Flash TV series, and the Rocketeer!
As a side note: My wife just asked me, “So, you’re like, 11 in that picture?”
Well somebody had to take my little brother trick-or treating.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
It’s one thing to run around the house and think that you’re Rambo, it’s another thing to try to convince others that you’re Rambo. This was the dilemma I found myself with during Halloween, 1987. This was a time when I was Rambo obsessed. Now before I get my parents in trouble, let me clarify that I had only seen parts of Rambo First Blood Part II, and had only seen the NBC edit of First Blood. For the uninitiated, Rambo also had a line of action figures, video games and even a cartoon. He was TOTALLY kid friendly. (I wonder if author David Morrell saw any of this coin?)
I remember wanting to be either Lt. Falcon from the G.I. Joe movie or Rambo. My parents still have a black beret and olive drab handkerchief/scarf for the Lt. Falcon outfit, but I clearly remember being SUPER disappointed by not getting a SGT. Slaughter costume together for my little bro. Buying costume pieces was a lot more expensive then, than it is today.
“Plan B” was to dress up as Rambo. It was easy: Pants, boots, knife, headband.
Lose the shirt and we’re good to go.
To bad it was REALLY cold.
And Rambo DOESN’T WEAR A JACKET!
And I was REALLY scrawny. I was embarrassed and ashamed by how “unRambo” I actually was.
I gave up. Halloween was bust. The night that only comes around once a year waits for no kid. You can be sick on a Christmas or a birthday and just open your presents the next day. But not Halloween. Have you ever seen a kid walk around the neighborhood on November 1st because he was absent for Halloween? Me neither.
Thankfully, my mom had a plan C (It hadn’t occurred to me to plan past B) and I was a scarecrow: straw hat, shirt stuffed with straw. Piece of cake.
And my little brother dawned the headband and was RAMJOE! Too bad I can’t put my hands on some pics.
It was one thing to run around the house playing Rambo; thinking you looked like Rambo. It was completely different coming to terms that you’re a pale a skinny nine year old.
But this hasn’t been a problem since I’ve been “First Blood Part II” shredded.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Like most kids, I regurgitated every thing that I watched on t.v. And I watched a LOT of t.v. (age appropriate of course.) I really liked the catchy Mac Tonight music.
According to wikipedia:
Mac Tonight was a mascot introduced by McDonald's restaurants in 1986. He was intended to advertise McDonald's late night hours to adults. He had a crescent moon for a head, wore a suit and sunglasses, and was depicted as being a jazzy lounge singer. The name was a play on words of the song "Mack the Knife", made popular in America by Bobby Darin. The song that played over the advertisements, called "It's Mac Tonight", was also a variant on that song, but with McDonald's-themed lyrics.
I used to sing this McDonald's song around the house, so my mom thought I should be Mac Tonight for Halloween. She fabricated a foam head and covered it with cloth. On Halloween night we went to the McDonald's on North Monroe Street (not the one that's there now, but the one that used to be El Jalico) to show off my costume (and probably eat dinner. Natch.) I remember the costume netting my a free sundae. Booyah!
You can see that Uncle Jee-Jah is clearly Superman and not just a kid dressed as Superman because he has the ever important spit-curl that I was lacking five years earlier. Believe it or not, this is not the last Superman to show up on this Halloween-themed blog.
FYI- Mac Tonight was played by Doug Jones who would go on to play other "masked" characters from films like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Hellboy, Pan's Labyrinth and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Here's a pic of my as Bacon and Eggs. It's just the Ghostbusters costume recycled. The "ghost" now has yolk with a side of cardboard and polyurethane bacon. Maybe not the coolest idea, but it was one of the most delicious meals this young picky-eater ever ate with any regularity.
Oh yeah, and it's Uncle Jee-Jah's birthday.
Happy 26th (dang) dude!
Monday, October 4, 2010
Well, not really.
My mom had the idea to dress me as the Ghostbuster's logo. It was/is a cool idea because I have yet to see anyone else try it. It was basicaaly a white gown-type thing with a "smurf-ish" hat/hood. I wore a hoola-hoop around my-self, which was covered in red with a red SLASH through the middle.
And of course, I can't track down a picture of it.
Sunday, October 3, 2010
I really though that this was a cool costume. As a matter of fact, we still have it. Over the years, it's doubled as a werewolf, Chewbacca, and the Big Bad Wolf in school productions. My mom put a lot of effort into making it and even dressed up as a tree from the moon of Endor as a companion piece. In the group shot, you can see two vintage, store-bought ewoks. "Store-boughts" now give "homemades" a run for their money.
Saturday, October 2, 2010
All of these costumes may be a year off. Pac-man was popular in 1982, but I can't imagine that my had her finger on the pulse of pop culture. She's a parent and a teacher (so am I) so she'd be a year behind the pop curve (am I?) Add this to the holes in the costume/photo archives and I'm thinking that the years represented on the photos could be a year off.
This was a really cool costume, even though I'm didn't grow up to be a gamer. I lack the patience and basically suck at all video games. The only game I "beat" as a kid was nintendo Golf.
And Contra (with 30 extra lives.)
What I remember most about this costume, Halloween is that I look like a wheel of cheese. We went to our next door neighbor's house for our first stop. THE first stop. They lived on a hill, the front yard sloping steeply down to the street. I rang the doorbell, took a step back when they surprisingly threw opened the door, and I fell.
Then I rolled.
And rolled and rolled and rolled down to the curb.
There's a shot in "The Big Lebowski" where the camera angle is the ball's POV. Think that, but replace the bowling lane with grass, and the ceiling with a black sky and orange street light and you get the idea.
Friday, October 1, 2010
It’s no secret that the Fall is my favorite season. I’m sure it’s that way for people. Either Fall or Spring. Transition months.
Fall is the best for many reasons: changing leaves, best weather/temperatures, no humidity. September is awesome. But September is just the preamble for OCTOBER! The BEST MONTH OF THE YEAR!
October is the end of the first nine weeks, my birthday and Halloween! The one holiday where creativity takes to the front seat (costumes, pumpkins carving, school crafts.) Halloween has always been a fun holiday in the Penn household. My parents always MADE our costumes and I am always greatful for it. I’ve made it a point to hand-make my children’s costume. For the month of October I’ll be spot-lighting costumes from Halloween’s past and present.