Halloween Costumes for The Procrastinators, The Couples, and/or The Underly-Ambitious Yet Self-Satisfied DIYers

You have no time to read. I’ll keep it simple.


A Lunar Eclipse: For Couples (or if you’re going solo, get creative)

The sun. If you have a dog, include dog. Make some sort of sun out of whatever you have on hand. Panty hose make for a nice impromptu stretchy material to attach the sun around your dog’s waist. Or you could tie the sun to a harness.

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If you don’t have a dog, tie the sun around a wrist and hold your arm out for photos. (The sun would go with the person wearing the shadow costume [see below], not the moon. And make sure your shadow costume wearer places the sun in front of the earth.)

Now the earth’s shadow. Wear all black, buy an inflatable earth or use whatever you can think of. I made this hat with wire which I bent into a halo shape, then placed over a black mask.IMG_2625.JPG

If you can’t find an inflatable globe, you could print out an image of the earth, affix the image to cardboard, and tie it to your wrist to hold in front of you.

Now the moon. I found an image on the internet, printed it out, covered it in clear mailing tape and stapled it to a black shirt. (Tip: Staple from the inside or risk getting stabbed a little throughout the evening.) Add black pants, black shoes, etc. Voila. You’re a moon about to be eclipsed. The smaller person in the couple should be the moon and should stand behind the shadow, barely peeking out. This is an eclipse after all.

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Last Minute Costume Ideas

Matching Couple

Retired (Hawaiian shirt, golf club, AARP card, etc.)

If you have a portable musical instrument, be a musician.

If you partake in any hobby that requires a costume, be that. (For instance, I’m wearing my flamenco skirt and castanets for tonight’s party.)

If you have formal wear, pretend you’re at prom. Add pimples and dorky glasses. Or go with a retro look.


More Costumes

Couples or solo, look here for details on these homemade creations:

A jumping cholla, a saguaro.

Fifty Shades of Grey, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Wind, a Tumbleweed (Yeah, people will say “blow me.”)

A Black Hole, A Shooting Star


The Ultimate Procrastinator’s Last Minute Costumes:

An undercover cop. Click here for details.

A Sale of Two Titties. (Print out: $$$FORSALE$$$ and affix to your chest.)

A Tale of Two Cities (Print out: London + Paris, for instance) and affix these to your butt…again, remember, staple from the inside. Or if you’re going to a really fun party, you know what to do. Don’t recommend Sharpie markers for that.

Last year’s last minute costume.


What’re you gonna be for Halloween?

Translating in the Dark

I’m working on a project with Andreas (you may know him as “Nannus”) to translate Frege’s “On the Scientific Justification of a Concept Script,” which is funny since I don’t know much about Frege—close to nothing—and I don’t speak German. Nannus, however, is a native German speaker with a strong grasp of English and logic, so I thought my work would be a simple edit of what he’d already published on his blog. I believe I told him it would be nice to move away from the original German syntax to make the writing more accessible to English readers, and I thought it would take very little work since the article’s so short. Professional translators are probably laughing at me now.

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This has been an entirely new sort of writing project for me. Normally when I write, I craft sentences to approximate the idea I have sitting in my mind, and yet, this act lends the initial idea a distinctive clarity, tethering it in specificity. I can’t say I have no idea of what I’m gonna say before it becomes formulated into words, but the idea is usually cloudy, a mere outline. It’s not controversial to say that writing clarifies thoughts, but we don’t always like to acknowledge that it can uproot an initial idea by displaying, sometimes all-too-concretely, its incoherence. Thanks to the delete button I can contradict myself without embarrassing myself, I can change my mind in private so that by the time my idea comes across to an audience, it seems as though my thoughts have always been relatively clear, as if it were only a matter of putting them on paper. In seeing my ideas so concretely, almost objectively, I can revise them, altering them to make them more logical, qualifying them to soften their rough edges, tweaking them to make finer points that otherwise
wouldn’t be available to me. This is part of Frege’s point (as I understand him)—that “external signs” make more permanent what is otherwise transient, that thoughts would not be what we think they are without written language.

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A bit of doodling from high school which I found as I was cleaning out my mom’s house. I decided to photograph this bit and then throw away the journal. No regrets. I like the photo better than the original, especially that glare in the corner.

I found that this distinctive benefit of writing—the clearing out of cobwebs in one’s own mind—gets lost in translating, which instead forces words into what feels like a jigsaw puzzle, the emerging picture being some mysterious original content, the author’s intent, somehow graspable though difficult to re-articulate. This isn’t a perfect metaphor since there’s room for some structural alteration which a jigsaw puzzle wouldn’t allow. For instance, I could break apart sentences that an English reader would find tediously long, within limits. But this breaking apart sometimes meant changing a word or two, which then required changes further down the sentence often due to seemingly trivial things like syntactical expectations in English. And after doing this sentence-level reconstruction, all this had to be looked at from a paragraph level, and the reformulations had to be altered yet again to form a coherent whole. And so on. Not to mention the odd dynamic here since I couldn’t consult with the original text myself, which felt a bit like I was playing out some inverted version of the Chinese room argument…and of course I would be the one locked in the room with nothing but vapor clouds of propositional content, wasting most of my time wondering about pizza delivery options. Plus, I wanted to make changes in places I felt there was inconsistency or superfluous detail clouding the author’s message, but that was not only not my job, but not allowed. The irony here is that Frege’s article is about the cloudiness of language and the need to create a new form of communication free from equivocation, hidden premises, and mental muck. Good luck with that, Frege. I suppose a thin crust pizza might make it under the door relatively intact, don’t you think?

Do you have experiences of translating other people’s words? Or lost in translation experiences? What did you learn?