Sunday, October 19, 2014


In the build up to Halloween, I like to get into the mood of the season with changes to my wardrobe and my media consumption. Being a New Yorker, I already have plenty of black in my closet.

Did I mention I went to the New Yorker Festival last week?
But the other stuff gets a little trickier the older that I get. I'm easily scared and susceptible to nightmares, so "scary" movies and television outside of children's specials have to be carefully screened. Slasher flicks simultaneously bore and aggravate me with their flat characters and backwards sexual politics. (I don't feel catharsis seeing women in peril, I just feel frustrated.) Vampires have come and gone through my life--many middle school wages wasted on the diminishing returns of Anne Rice novels. And while zombies are having a moment in pop culture that doesn't seem to be ending anytime soon, I hate them and everything they stand for.

Modern fears of overpopulation and scarcity of resources.
While this would usually be the point in the conversation where I say something pretentious like, "I enjoy more high-brow meditations on death and mortality," the truth is, I don't like that stuff either. The BF has been re-watching old episodes of "The Twilight Zone" to enrich his Halloween experience, and it's one of the finest television shows ever made, but he likes it with only one light on instead of ALL the light on, so I make him put on headphones and turn the laptop away from me.

*panicked sobbing*
My friend R had this same problem when she was looking for books for a community story time event she leads on Sundays. She wanted at least half of the books she presented during October to have female protagonists, and she wanted the books to be genuinely creepy while still being appropriate for children as young as nine. It was a nearly impossible task. All the texts she found were either about boys--there's LOTS of spooky tween-ish stuff out there for boys--or were too sexually explicit because of some romance triangle between the girl and a ghost pirate and a zombie.

Young adult literature is getting out of hand.
It's frustrating because I LOVE Halloween. I dress up every year (usually as Catwoman). I've been in the Village Halloween Parade twice. I used to do a Ghost Walk in Honolulu Chinatown every October for my college's creative writing club. I'm into all this weird shit, not because I wanted to be scared by it but because I'm enchanted with it. It doesn't repel me--it attracts me.

In a fit of pique, with the knowledge that October was almost half over and all I'd done was watch a mediocre Roman Polanski movie called "The Ninth Gate," I found myself online, asking the Internet to recommend stuff that was scary, but not too scary, maybe feminist, and wasn't about zombies or vampires or werewolves or romance (I hate romance books, but that's a post for another time). And you know what you get with those search criteria?

My other middle school obsession!
Witches! It's one of the few horror genres where the female characters are empowered, not in peril. Perfect Halloween subject matter for a feminist who's also kind of a weenie. I'm currently reading a non-fiction book called "Caliban and the Witch," which discusses the historical phenom of witch-burning as it related to the rise of capitalism and the subjugation of the New World (BF says, "Of course you are."), and a fiction book called "The Night Circus," about dueling magicians and the magic circus they use as their battleground. I'm reading as fast as I can, because as I said, fit of pique, and I've got seventeen books reserved in my hold queue at the Brooklyn Public Library. Plus I still need to do stuff like go to work and shower.

"I only wish I had more time to seek out the Dark Forces and join their hellish crusade."
But it's not just books about witches and satirical re-watchings of Nicolas Cage in "The Wicker Man." I'm doing Halloweeny stuff outside my apartment, too. I attended an event last week called "All Them Witches," which was a series of short lectures on witches in television and movies: "Bewitched," "Excalibur," "Haxan," "The Devil Rides Out," "The Craft" (naturally),"Lords of Salem," and others. I even won the raffle! Here is my winning ticket, a drawing of a stick figure witch with skulls on her broom, riding triumphantly over a burning church and terrified peasants weeping for their puny god.

Thank goodness it was a random lottery and not based on something like skill or talent.
There's a kitty on the broom, too, but I don't think you can see it in this picture. I won perfume samples from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab and a poster from the event signed by all the performers.

Last Friday, I was a different kind of witch altogether. My school held a Harry Potter-themed fall festival for the students, and I got to dress up to work one of the tables. Or rather, the BF dressed me. I don't know how to tie a Windsor knot, though I may have to learn, because I got a lot of compliments on my outfit at work that day.

My beard was also especially luxurious.
What do the next two weeks of October hold? Pumpkin carving? Apple picking? Visits to cat sanctuaries?

Probably just lots and lots of reading. Seventeen books, what was I thinking? "The Craft" is on Netflix Instant, for heaven's sake!

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