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Scary news lends itself to Halloween costumes

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OK, so there's only two more nights left in the Halloween-party season and you have yet to wear a costume. But you're still hankering to engage in a little masquerade.

You could follow the masses by dressing up as one of the Halloween standbys, such as the ever-popular Sexy Cowgirl, the omnipresent Grim Reaper from Scream or the laziest costume ever, Guy Wearing Hockey Gear.

Or you could impress your friends by ripping your costume straight from the headlines, in Winnipeg and beyond. The following somewhat-topical costume suggestions will help you get the general idea:


Rob Ford and Marg Delahunty

WHILE Winnipeg's city hall can seem a little scary on occasion, the antics of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and his divided city council are a genuine horror show. The latest bizarre tale to emerge from Canada's largest but somehow least sophisticated city involves Ford running away in fright from the sight of CBC TV satirist Mary Walsh in her guise as Marg Delahunty, Princess Warrior.

In a now-infamous move, Ford dialled 911 after being ambushed by Walsh, who's been pulling variations of this comedy routine on public figures since 1993. Adding to the weirdness are conflicting reports as to whether the misadventure-prone mayor spoke abusively to emergency dispatchers.

Couples interested in topical costumes could do worse than dress up as Rob and Marg in an effort to re-enact the Hogtown horror.

WHO CAN PULL IT OFF: Any two people -- as well an optional bunch of friends, as explained below.

HOW TO PULL IT OFF: To dress up as the plus-sized Ford, wear an oversized shirt and pants and stuff them both with pillows. To go as Marg, buy the cheapest Xena: Princess Warrior costume you can find at the mall or drugstore.

Your friends can get into the act by dressing up as police officers who can then proceed to protect fake Ford from phoney Delahunty. This would be fun even if it wasn't Halloween.

The Ghost of Gary Filmon

DURING the recent provincial election campaign, Manitoba's NDP tried to scare the bejaysus out of voters by connecting Tory Leader Hugh McFadyen to former Manitoba premier Gary Filmon. You, too, can attempt to scare your friends and neighbours by dressing up as Filmon's ghost, regardless of the fact the mild-mannered ex-politician remains very much alive.

WHO CAN PULL IT OFF: Middle-aged men.

HOW TO PULL IT OFF: Wear a business suit, round glasses and part your hair down the side. Then walk around moaning, "Greg Selinger says I fired 1,000 nurses. Greg Selinger says I fired 1,000 nurses." You'll be the life of the party.


Frightened flight attendant

IF Air Canada's infamous internal memo was intended to be taken seriously, the only thing scarier than downtown Winnipeg is the notion people who work for an international air carrier lack the basic street smarts to avoid intoxicated people in the centre of a city of 700,000. Happily, this makes for one heck of an easy Halloween costume.

WHO CAN PULL IT OFF: Anyone, but it works best if you're a young, slender female.

HOW TO PULL IT OFF: Dress up in a polyester uniform, affix an Air Canada logo to your chest and then pull around a piece of rolling carry-on luggage. Act frightened whenever you encounter anyone, remembering never to leave your luggage unattended.


Undead Rod Peeler

ON his billboards, Winnipeg real estate agent Peeler boasts "I never sleep." Some people interpret this to be a statement about his work ethic. Others simply believe he suffers from insomnia and requires medical help.

But there's another explanation for Peeler's catchphrase: He does not rest because he cannot rest. Due to some unholy curse, he is destined to walk the Earth for all eternity -- or at least until your home is sold.

WHO CAN PULL IT OFF: Any male with enough hair to vaguely resemble Rod Stewart.

HOW TO PULL IT OFF: Apply product to your hair to achieve a Rod Stewart look. Then don a blazer and hand out business cards to everyone you meet. Months after Halloween, continue to send fridge magnets and calendars to the recipients of those cards.


The 99 per cent solution

OCCUPY Wall Street began in Manhattan in September, originally at the behest of Adbusters magazine. Since then, the movement to reform capitalism has spread around the globe. You can express solidarity with the 99-per-centers by occupying the Halloween party of your choice, preferably if you do not have an invitation.

WHO CAN PULL IT OFF: Anyone with the conviction to follow through on the joke.

HOW TO PULL IT OFF: First, dress in comfortable clothing that's warm enough to withstand the elements. You can go with outdoor clothing or the bohemian look, but make sure you don't appear too well-dressed. If you can, try not to bathe.

When you reach the destination of your choice, pitch a tent or unroll a sleeping bag, right in the middle of the living room. Encourage friends to drop by your personal tent city and donate fair-trade alcohol and vegan Halloween candy. Finally, refuse to leave when asked to do so by your host.

If this doesn't work, you can always head down to Memorial Park and attempt to blend in.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 30, 2011 A8

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About Bartley Kives

Bartley Kives wants you to know his last name rhymes with Beavis, as in Beavis and Butthead. He aspires to match the wit, grace and intelligence of the 1990s cartoon series.

Bartley joined the Free Press in 1998 as a music critic. He spent the ensuing 7.5 years interviewing the likes of Neil Young and David Bowie and trying to stay out of trouble at the Winnipeg Folk Festival before deciding it was far more exciting to sit through zoning-variance appeals at city hall.

In 2006, Bartley followed Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz from the music business into civic politics. He spent seven years covering city hall from a windowless basement office.

He is now reporter-at-large for the Free Press and also writes an outdoor-recreation column called Offroad for the Outdoors page.

A canoeist, backpacker and food geek, Bartley is fond of conventional and wilderness travel. He is the author of A Daytripper’s Guide to Manitoba: Exploring Canada’s Undiscovered Province, the only comprehensive travel guidebook for Manitoba – and a Canadian bestseller, to boot. He is also co-author of Stuck In The Middle: Dissenting Views of Winnipeg, a collaboration with photographer Bryan Scott and the winner of the 2014 Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award.

Bartley’s work has also appeared on CBC Radio and Citytv as well as in publications such as The Guardian, explore magazine and National Geographic Traveler. He sits on the board of PEN Canada, which promotes freedom of expression.

Born in Winnipeg, he has an arts degree from the University of Winnipeg and a master’s degree in journalism from Ottawa’s Carleton University. He is the proud owner of a blender.

On Twitter: @bkives


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