It's unfortunately kind of hard to make out from this black and white photo from the Carden Christian 1985-1986 yearbook (I'll have to bug my Mom for one of her color photos), but I'm wearing a costume that makes me appear to be a freakishly tall alien-looking humanoid.
On top of my head, I have a dummy head, a red-felt-covered styrofoam wig-modeling head that my family bought when the JC Penney store at Fashion Island went out of business (along with a posable stuffed cloth human dummy that we got lots of good use out of at Halloween and in the "Oedipus Rex" movie my friend Howie Wang and I made for English class in high school -- page devoted to that forthcoming).
The dummy head is wearing a pair of "motorcycle sunglasses" my grandfather gave me. Here's a modern, color picture of the head, though it's now wearing the mirrorshades I substituted when I wore this costume in 1995, because the motorcycle glasses had broken:
The dummy head is kept on top of my head partially by a cloth strap that's poked through the dummy head's neck, and which is tied under my chin. You can see the strap in this less atmospheric photo:
You can also see in that shot how the glasses are held on -- a "wire staple" (U-shaped nail) on each side, driven into the styrofoam. All those extra holes are there because the old motorcycle glasses were heavier, and being kid's glasses, were a bit too tight for the head, so they'd work the staples loose. Thus, I had to drive them into a new location from time-to-time.
Anyway, to continue, I wore a somewhat oversized blue nylon jacket belonging to my Dad, and put the hood up around the dummy head. To hide my face but still be able to see, I tied the lower, mouth-covering portion of a black ninja hood (which I owned despite the fact I was never a ninja for Halloween) around the bottom of the dummy head's neck (high enough to conceal the cloth strap). I would then zip up the jacket to just below my eyeline. I could see out of the porous cloth, but people couldn't see in. The overall effect was that this creature was just wearing a black shirt.
For maximum weirdness factor, I'd do a lot of dancing and swaying around, craning the long neck. Had to be careful not to raise my arms much, though (except at the elbows), partially because doing so would hurt the illusion since the arms would appear to be bending in the middle of the upper arm, and partially because the downward pressure exerted by my armpits on the jacket were the other factor along with the chin strap that kept the head on straight.
I've referred above to this costume as "pencil-neck geek", but actually that name didn't come until later, as I describe on the Halloween 1986 page.
In the main picture above, to the left of me is Chris Henry, who I believe was billing himself as a secret agent (though I wonder if he also got some inspiration from the 2 Tone Records mascot -- Chris was the guy who, God bless him, took it upon himself to introduce me to new wave and modern rock (well, I suppose early MTV introduced me to that, but Chris certainly cemented it), and got me to realize that most mainstream music was crap1). To the right of me is Peter Ivanovich as a lumberjack.
Actually Chris and Peter and I also wore a second set of costumes this year (sort of), when we got together at Jason Cunningham's house for Halloween, and decided at the spur of the moment to go Trick-or-Treating. We didn't have any costumes with us, but we figured we could go as "punks" if we spiked our hair using eggs. The success of this technique was mixed, but off we went into Jason's neighborhood nonetheless. One thing that sticks in my mind from our Trick-or-Treating was that at one place, where a stairway led up to the second-floor entrance, Peter and I decided for some reason that it'd be funny to hang back, hide under the stairway, and then jump out and scare Chris and Jason when they came back down.
Well, not only were they not scared, but Jason scolded us, "What were you guys doing?? You totally missed out. That lady up there was showing off her tits -- her top was totally see-through!" Peter and I wanted to go up for our own look, but to rub it in, Chris and Jason didn't give us the chance.
Chris would make me cassette copies ("C30, C60, C90, Go!") of Adam Ant, Cure, Depeche Mode, INXS, and other albums. In my case, the RIAA's arguments against home taping were incorrect, since I later bought "real" copies of all these albums (and in turn, many many others) on cassette and then later again on CD.
An amusing side-story is that when the theme of Carden's annual flower show was "The Wizard Of Oz", my teacher asked if anyone owned the soundtrack, so they could play it in the background during the show. I replied that my family didn't have the soundtrack (it's possible it was out-of-print at that time), but we did have a cassette which told a condensed version of the story using audio clips from the movie, including music, and that that could be edited into a music-only tape.
Amazingly, my teacher okayed my doing this editing at school during class time. My method of doing the editing was to take two mono tape recorders (my Dad's from home plus the one from my classroom) and set them up facing each other, and record the output of one's speaker into the second one's mic. Because this had to be done in a quiet environment, they sent me off to an empty room to work on it. Meanwhile my classmates were having to do real work.
Actually for part of the time, one of my classmates (I believe it was Garrick Frost, but it might have been Jason Cunningham) was sent to "help" me (how many people does it take to sit there while two tape recorders run?), but inevitably we ended up screwing around, and having "chair fights" while recording was going on. So if you listened carefully during the flower show, you could hear phantom sounds of suppressed giggles and task chairs rolling violently across a tiled floor.
Chris tried to object to the teacher that he could make a much higher-quality dub, and faster, with his high-speed-dubbing-equipped dual cassette deck, but I shushed him so he wouldn't dispel the teacher's ignorance and make me miss out on a sanctioned opportunity to goof off during class time.
|Dan Harkless Last modified: May 12, 2004||Validated HTML 4.01 Transitional|