31 Lists of Horror: Randal Graham’s Introvert Halloween Checklist

How­ev­er you want to say and/or spell it—Halloween, Hallowe’en, All Hal­lows Eve, All Hal­low Even, Can­dy from Strangers Night—October 31 is indis­putably the cor­po­rate-man­dat­ed spook­i­est time of year. With that in mind, I present 31 Days of Devil’s Night lists, of my own and of my lit­er­ary brethren both near and far.

These are per­son­al, high­ly sug­ges­tive lists of rec­om­men­da­tions, avoid­ances, and/or rem­i­nis­cences. I make no guar­an­tees, save one: if you don’t read the whole of each list, you will be cursed for all eter­ni­ty. I don’t make the rules.

Today’s special guest lister: Randal Graham

Ran­dal Gra­ham is a law pro­fes­sor at West­ern Uni­ver­si­ty, in Ontario, where his teach­ing and research focus on ethics, legal lan­guage, and the struc­ture of legal argu­ments. His first nov­el, Before­life, was pub­lished by ECW Press in Sep­tem­ber, 2017. His pre­vi­ous books on law and legal the­o­ry have been assigned as manda­to­ry read­ing at uni­ver­si­ties across Cana­da and have been cit­ed by judges at every lev­el of court, includ­ing the Supreme Court of Cana­da and the Unit­ed States Supreme Court. He lives in Lon­don, Ontario, with his wife and their Himalayan kit­ty.

October 9, 2017

Randal Graham’s Introvert Halloween Checklist

I was con­ceived on Hal­loween. Why my par­ents are cer­tain of this, and why they chose to inflict this infor­ma­tion upon yours tru­ly, are side issues that needn’t be unpacked in a non-ther­a­peu­tic con­text. But I think we can all agree that my pecu­liar asso­ci­a­tion with this hol­i­day gives me a spe­cial appre­ci­a­tion of Octo­ber 31st. I love Hal­loween. I love dress­ing up in a Hal­loween cos­tume, watch­ing scary movies and TV spe­cials, dol­ing out treats to the neigh­bours’ kids, and rev­el­ling in the brouha­ha of the spook­i­est night of the year. Weigh­ing against this is the fact that I dis­like hob­nob­bing with pie-eyed pals whose last shreds of inhi­bi­tion evap­o­rate the moment they slip on a mask. This, as you might have guessed, is because I’m an intro­vert. I am hap­pi­est at home. I’d rather be curled up with a book, my cat, and a well-aged scotch than fore­gath­er­ing in any spot where you might expect to find red solo cups, par­ty games and a thump­ing bass, no mat­ter how con­ge­nial the com­pa­ny. If my pref­er­ences match up with yours, then allow me to be of ser­vice. I here­by present, gratis, my “Introvert’s Hal­loween Check­list” – my sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly proven guide to a top-notch Hal­loween at home.

(Note that a tru­ly per­fect Hal­loween com­bines all of the items list­ed below. No sub­sti­tu­tions, please).

Homestar Runner’s Halloween Toons

I yield to no man in my appre­ci­a­tion of The Great Pump­kin, Ich­a­bod Crane, or The Simp­sons’ Tree­hous­es of Ter­ror, but the blue rib­bon for “best thing to watch on Hal­loween” goes to a playlist fea­tur­ing every Home­s­tar Run­ner Hal­loween Toon (found here) (and exam­ple below).

What could be more Hal­lowee­ny than Strong­bad dressed as Cesar Romero dressed as the Jok­er, or Home­s­tar Run­ner trick-or-treat­ing as Kurt Cobain? Homestar’s pump­kin rat­ing sys­tem remains one of the high­lights of the sea­son. For extra tricks and treats, fol­low this up with Strongbad’s hilar­i­ous annu­al roast of his fans’ Hal­loween getups. Over­all rat­ing: Not worst place.

Power Biggs

You might be plan­ning to cre­ate some Hal­loween ambiance by lis­ten­ing to “The Mon­ster Mash”, or “Thriller”, or pos­si­bly some­thing drawn from Dan­ny Elfman’s col­lect­ed works. Dis­miss the notion. E. Pow­er Big­gs’ record­ing of “Bach: Works for Organ” is rec­og­nized (among the cognoscen­ti) as *the* sound­track of Hal­loween. Don’t believe me? Behold my evi­dence: https://youtu.be/GVu0auaZu7s. (ED: I did try to embed this, but no dice)

I rec­om­mend blar­ing this album over the speak­ers while the neigh­bour­hood kid­dies come around mooching can­dy. You’ll be sea­son­al­ly appro­pri­ate while also expos­ing the youth of today to some of the Great Works of clas­si­cal music.

Husk, by Corey Redekop (preferably the audiobook version)

Let me begin this entry by address­ing an appar­ent con­flict of inter­est. Corey Redekop is my friend. I’ve known him for years and years. He guid­ed me through the pub­li­ca­tion process when I wrote my first nov­el, and he wrote a love­ly blurb for the book upon its com­ple­tion. So you might think that the inclu­sion of Redekop’s sec­ond nov­el, Husk, on this list of Hal­loween favourites, smacks of an inside job. Fair enough. But it’s my list and I’m includ­ing it.

Read­ing Husk is a good deal like eat­ing hag­gis. It’s an assault upon the sens­es, but also strange­ly sat­is­fy­ing. Half way through you might won­der whether you ought to be sub­ject­ing your­self to the expe­ri­ence. Your skin is crawl­ing, your stom­ach queasy, and your brow fur­rowed. But in the end, if you’re any­thing like me, you’ll enjoy it so much that you’ll force it upon your friends.

Husk is a nat­ur­al fit for Hal­loween. Redekop’s satir­i­cal tale of a gay, Men­non­ite zom­bie is dark, haunt­ing, and fun. It’s also filled with fiendish­ly sub­tle moral insights — which mightn’t be some­thing you expect from Hal­loween fare, but some­thing you will expect from Redekop if you’re famil­iar with his work. For a spe­cial Hal­loween treat, I pre­fer lis­ten­ing to the audio ver­sion of Husk. Paul Costanzo’s rich per­for­mance of Redekop’s text is the per­fect accom­pa­ni­ment to E. Pow­er Big­gs’ organ recitals, which should already be play­ing in the back­ground if you’ve been pay­ing close atten­tion.

If you lis­ten to Husk at ‘nor­mal’ speed, this will occu­py about 12 hours of your Hal­loween. Speed­ing up the play­back threat­ens to spoil the mag­ic. Con­sid­er spread­ing the expe­ri­ence over two or three nights – espe­cial­ly if you want to leave 90 min­utes at the end of Hal­loween for num­ber 5, below. But before that …

Zombie

Speak­ing of zom­bies … once the Hal­loween traf­fic peters out and you’re no longer bur­dened by the treat-demands of maraud­ing kids, you can enhance your appre­ci­a­tion of every oth­er item on this check­list by revers­ing the super­nat­ur­al order of things and con­sum­ing a zom­bie or two. A use­ful recipe is found here: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zombie_(cocktail)

The Call of Cthulhu

Stop what­ev­er you’re doing at 10:30 pm and lis­ten to this record­ing of HP Lovecraft’s “The Call of Cthul­hu.”

It is gor­geous, bril­liant, macabre, and won­der­ful. And if you start it at 10:30 pm this record­ing will reach its crescen­do right at mid­night, which seems entire­ly appro­pri­ate. What you do *after* mid­night is none of my busi­ness.

And there you have it! A per­fect evening for any­one who loves and appre­ci­ates Hal­loween but prefers to love and appre­ci­ate it at home.

Repeat every Octo­ber 31.

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