Is there a better holiday than Halloween? Of course not. It has no tedious religious requirements. It has no family get-together component. It has no bummer moral underpinning (I'm looking at you, Memorial Day). It can be enjoyed at all age levels, being just as fun to do in your 40s with your daughter as it was in your freewheeling 20s. And, as holidays go, it runs neck and neck with New Year for getting you laid. It's also the only holiday that favors-celebrates!- a creative smartass. Indeed, I may be a humorless grump who too often sees the bad in everything, especially human nature. But for at least one day a year I am a fucking delight. And that day is Halloween.
The problem with Halloween is that too many get started too late. Going down to Broadway's Village Halloween store two or three days before game time usually results in a poor costume. Halloween is less than a month away. Now is the time to start planning.
One key to a great costume is that it cannot be mistaken as something that it is not. [Editor's Note: Yes. Remind me to tell you about the year that I mistakenly went as a Space Prostitute, a la News Radio.] This demands an attention to detail; but more important, one must pick a costume that has an appropriate amount of highly definitive characteristics. As a thought exercise, below are some random suggestions that would make unique, quirky costumes. Each includes a note on the key details that make a costume good and the bonus details that make it unforgettable.
Miles Monroe from Sleeper
This is a perfect New York costume and probably the only Woody Allen costume that would be recognizable as a Woody Allen costume.
Keys: A tuxedo. Chunky black glasses. For the "hat" maybe some kind of colander (though a strainer version with holes will look terrible). White gloves. A red-lighted dial-knobbed chest unit (off an old record player or something). Some kind of silver mouthpiece. White face paint.
Bonus: Have a silver "orgasm" ball. Be petite (this would actually be a good cross-dressing costume for a woman). Display a crushing amount of self-consciousness energy. Be Jewish.
Difficulty Level (1-5): 3.5.
The mysterious test driver from BBC's "Top Gear" is an icon. While many Americans may think you're just some F1 driver, all Brits, BBC America fans, and Jalopnik editors will adore this.
Keys: White jump suit. White helmet with black visor (NO EXCEPTIONS). White shoes. White Gloves. Bad-ass stance. A steering wheel.
Bonus: A V12 Vanquish.
Difficulty Level: 2.
The Kuato costume can be done by anyone; but for those with an very young infant this has great potential.
Keys: Get a fake bare upper body/torso costume (like this one) or simply a skin-colored body leotard. Cut a hole in the chest area. Place your infant in his/her BabyBjorn/carrier, allowing only the baby's head and arms to come out of the chest. Put a bald cap on the baby. Don a military surplus jacket. Make zombie face.
Bonus: Bad haircut. Smear the baby with Vaseline. Get your wife/baby mama/significant other to dress as the three-breasted prostitute (NSFW). Teach the baby to say, "Quuaaaaiiiddddd. Quuuaaaiiiiddddd."
Extra bonus: Start the reactor and freeeeeee Mars….
Difficulty Level: 4.
Certainly the ONLY movie critic that could be a decent costume. Shalit became a nation treasure after he filed his first report on 1915's Birth of a Nation: "Don't all mob to see D.W.'s tale of hate when it's in your hood!"
Keys: Afro wig (trim out bits and pieces to maximize stringy insanity). Use trimmings from Afro wig for mustache (the more extreme and satirical the better). Insane bow-tie. Loud baggy shirt. Oversize Golden Girls-style eyeglasses. Pillow for gut (if no natural gut exists). Pleated slacks (more pleats the better) with knit-leather belt. Atrocious sportcoat (optional).
Bonus: Tub of popcorn. Speak only in bad puns all evening.
Difficulty level: 3.
Matt Hunter from Invasion USA
What is more fun than dressing up as Chuck Norris? This 1980s classic has it all.
Keys: Tight (light blue) Jeans, Jean shirt with sleeves cut off (leave shirt open). Feathered hair (or get a wig; don't skimp on the hair). Chuck Norris beard. Combat boots. Big round belt buckle. Double Uzis in harness.
Bonus: Stuffed alligator to wrestle. (Alternatively: Stuffed pet armadillo).
Extra Bonus: Ford Bronco (with off-road lifts).
Difficulty level: 2.5.
Named Esquire magazine's 2007 best dressed men, Karzai is an easy costume, especially in New York.
Keys: Nehru-collar shirt. Tented hat. Crazy colored cape. Trimmed beard. Grizzled look. Carry a box marked "Kandahar Ballots" in one hand and a large envelop marked "Payoffs" in the other.
Bonus: Be short and slight and old.
Difficulty Level: 1.
The Man and The Boy
When he woke at the party in the dark and the cold of night he'd reach out to touch the PBR sitting beside him. Heh. The Road is going to be scaring the beejesus out of people in theaters at the exact moment Halloween hits, thus exposing Cormac McCarthy to a whole new generation of people who will start, but never finish, Blood Meridian.
Keys: The Road costume is best with two people, preferably one a grown man and one a young boy; or maybe, a girl/boyfriend if s/he is short and young-looking enough. (This will not work with two normal adults). Other than that, look at the picture and go from there. Ratty coat. Ratty hoodie. Backpack. Pistol (revolver only). Ripped gloves. Shopping cart loaded with nasty blankets and a jug of water. Beard. Everything should be filthy.
Bonus: Smell like that photo looks. Speak only in clipped, two or three word sentences. Also, you may accrue a good deal of spare change throughout the evening.
Difficulty level: 3.
One of the more forgotten Indiana Jones foes is easily one of the trilogy's best costumes.
Keys: Red and black robes. Bone necklace. Painted bald head with red/black design. Black eye paint. Heart. Knife. Skull from which to drink. Blood.
Extra Credit: Stuffed alligators sewn on back of cape. Real cow heart. Be South Asian.
Difficulty level: 2.
We lost Dom DeLuise this year and what better a way to honor his memory than to be Captain Chaos?
Keys: Dehydration-urine shade of yellow mechanic jumpsuit. Sew your own cowl and "Chaos" mask for the extra homemade touch. Don't forget a very poorly filled-in mustache. Brown belt. Blue undershirt.
Bonus touches: Be fat. Very, very fat and effeminate.
Difficulty level: 2.
Zardoz (Sean Connery)
Yes, there are a lot of risks with this costume but the payoff may be worth it. I mean, just look at the trailer. This takes balls.
Keys: Thigh-high boots. Red halter bandolier thing (may have to hand-make this). Red Pampers. Pistol (revolver only). Ponytail. Mustache.
Bonus: Wads of fake chest hair. Scottish accent.
Difficulty level: 3.5.
Obama Rally "Tree of Liberty" Asshole
Yeah, THAT guy.
Keys: White ball hat. H&M Gotti-striped shirt over t-shirt. Jeans (cuffed!). Thigh holster with pistol (water gun filled with Democracy Booze!?) Sign with "IT IS TIME TO WATER THE TREE OF LIBERTY!" and little tread-on-me snake.
Bonus: Knock-off Kenneth Cole driving shoes from Kmart.
Difficulty level: 2.
A Gawker Sex Tape Post
Sure, it's an inside joke but how much would YOU laugh if you saw a couple dressed like this.?
Keys: A giant enlargement of the Dane/Gayheart sex tape page. Or draw it. Cut out the "video" part of the page. A man and two women stand behind the cutout. Be as naked or as naked-looking as possible. Women can go with the Noxema-boobed thing. Smoke a lot. (Basically, like this idea.) Don't forget the page-view count fireball.
Bonus: Actually be naked. Be accompanied by a tall, giant-headed third person dressed in Zara with a British accent and wads of money coming out of all pockets and orifices.
Difficulty level: 3.5 (done perfectly: 5).