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
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.
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 …
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.