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Trick-or-Treating, Begrudgingly

The weekend has been so jam-packed, I think I will have to write in two parts, either because there is so much to share, or because I like to hear the sound of my own typing - and I fear that both may be the case. I suppose yesterday started interestingly enough, because I woke in the morning with a gaming dream fresh in my memories. In this dream, several Valve developers came to visit my house and demonstrated Half-Life 2 (although Gabe Newell was conspicuously absent; whether he was actually working or just at the local Krispy Kreme was unclear). After a short introduction, I went to play the game, only to find it bogged down by cumbersome, Invisible War-type menus and game-killing bugs. However, for some reason, in the dream I was so excited to be playing HL2 that my first instinct was to get on AIM and send a message to Alec-Eiffel (the GS forums' greatest Half-Life follower) just to gloat that I had the game before he did. I woke up in a cold sweat, at first thinking it could be due to my worries that Half-Life 2 may not be as good as I hope it to be, but then realizing that Rich had swiped all the covers and the window was open.

The good news is that Saturday, I bought a car. Yes, indeed, my bad credit decided to not stand in my way, and CarMax financed for me a lovely 2001 burgundy Chrysler Sebring. I am thrilled: I have wanted a Sebring for years, and even though my first-choice convertible model was a tad too expensive, the new car is in fantastic condition, although it has over 70,000 miles on it (what did the previous owner do, use the car for the Iditarod?). I also purchased a two-year warranty that covers everything - and called Geico to hand me the bad news on my new rates. Imagine my surprise that full coverage was only $600 for a 6-month policy. I have to give major props to CarMax: the entire experience was easy, no-hassle, and the staff is so efficient and friendly that anyone needing to buy a used car shouldn't even consider going elsewhere.

So today was Halloween, or as I prefer to call it, The Eve of my Own Insanity. To celebrate, Rich and I went to see one of the most incoherent suspense/horror flicks I have ever seen: The Grudge. My first choice was actually Saw, since the previews I had seen on Spike TV were intriguing, and I liked the "Silence of the Lambs Crossed WIth 7even"-type vibe in them. As I have mentioned before, Rich loves these teeny-bopper singers and actresses, and since Sarah-Michelle Gellar is the star of The Grudge, that was the film of choice. Now, bear in mind that I love a good scare, and aside from its utterly disastrous final 15 minutes (the same portion that killed M. Night Shymalan's movie Signs), I really enjoyed The Ring, and I was expecting a similar experience. Sadly, The Grudge is many things, but it is not a good film. It is one obvious, cliche driven, badly scored, bump-in-the-attic scare after another, replete with poor storytelling and lame attempts at symbolism without a real theme. After a while, I started keeping track of the list of inane horror movie analogies, and while using these unsusprising elements as a drinking game ("take a drink everytime someone goes to investigate noises in the closet!") would be a simple task, I prefer to think of the list as a Prego commercial. Broken picture frames? It's in there. Shower scene? It's in there. Insipid backstory that we're supposed to believe connects these various set pieces together? It's in there. Honestly, I found Gellar's acting on All My Children to be more chilling than this load of junk. And speaking of loads, how about the disgusting theater ads for Seed of Chucky? "Prepare for the Second Coming." "Get a Load of Chucky." Really, guys, outside of Trey Parker and Matt Stone, do you think anyone finds those obvious, vulgar catch-phrases entertaining?

As for the tricking and treating, Rich and I took his kids to his brother's house in Baltimore for the door-to-door sugar-fest, although the boys ended up staying at the house to scare passersby, while Rich and I took his nieces around the block. Both his sister's daughter and his brother's daughter were dressed as pixies, so I did take an opportunity to mention that there were actually four fairies in the group, but the joke went over as well as the Chucky ads, so I didn't press the issue. What struck me the most was both the neighborhood's camaraderie and the joy people have in dressing up - and that those two aspects of Halloween really reveal the true nature of this odd Holiday we have created from pagan mythology and Christian methodology. As a gay man, a lot of sincerely curious people ask me about various aspects of gay life, such as "who plays the man and who plays the woman?" (we're both men; neither of us put on fake breasts when we arrive home for the evening), or "why do so many lesbians have cats?" (I don't know, but I will not be making any obvious jokes about it here). One of the most common is this: "Why do so many gay men dress in drag?" Well, I have often tried to explain it with a variety of instrospective, cultural theories involving "camp," the embracing of stereotypes to remove their power over the community, and other high-falutin' concepts. In the end, though, I think the explanation may be a simple one: people just love to dress up and show off. Halloween, Mardi Gras, prom night; it's really entertaining to dress up as something you aren't, and to see how others look as something or someone else. Perhaps all of these things are just forms of drag; I have long surmised that all those gay guys that dress in leather and put on chaps that let their asses hang out are doing the same thing, only trying to make it look butch. We just designated a day out of the year where everyone can dress outlandishly and still be considered socially acceptable.

So what did you do tonight? Tricks? Treats? Alien abduction? Do tell. But whatever you do, don't tell me any stories that involve game developers infiltrating my house; I don't think my heart could take it.