Since I'm itching to blog but don't have much time, here's a little questionnaire I'm hoping lots of people will answer. (Yes, this is a naked plea for comments.)
Favorite Halloween costume?
When I was ten or twelve, somewhere in there, my mother made me a bat costume with very convincing wings. But since I also had a hat with ears, and since my mother had drawn whiskers on my face, most people mistook me for a cat until I stretched out my arms. Then they thought I was a flying cat.
It was still a great costume, though.
And then there was the year, in my early twenties, when I dressed up as Samurai Editor, with a vaguely Japanese-looking bathrobe, a plastic sword, and a copy of Strunk & White stuck in my belt.
Some of my students would still agree with that one.
Favorite Halloween tradition?
When I was growing up, my mother had a Halloween party every year where she transformed my bedroom into a haunted house, complete with a sheet mummy on the bed. The best part of this was tactile: she put out bowls containing peeled grapes (eyeballs) and cold spaghetti (monster guts). Kids love stuff like that. She also read us ghost stories while holding a flashlight under her face, which made her spookier than the stories.
Most exotic place you've spent Halloween?
In 1988, I went to London for the World Fantasy Convention, always held in late October. On October 31, I took the train from London to Edinburgh. We pulled into Edinburgh at dusk, arriving through fields dotted with bonfires. (It was a lot like the Loreena McKennitt song All Souls Night.) Once I'd checked into my hotel, I took a "Haunted Edinburgh" tour, featuring extras dressed in white sheets who periodically made scary noises and rushed out at us. When one of these apparitions ran out to confront me, gibbering and waving its hands, I gibbered and waved my hands back, and the ghost started to laugh. At our next stop, a cemetery, I saw that ghost or another one (who can tell, with the sheets?) hiding behind a tombstone, and I waved. The ghost waved back.
It's very important to make friends with ghosts.