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[Halloween is] overrun by grown-ups who claimed it as a holy rite in the church of perpetual adolescence. — Lawrence Downes

"I want to go to the party, but I don’t want to have to dress up,” David said.

“You know how it goes,” I said. “I’m sure you won’t be asked to leave if you don’t wear one, but what’s the point of going to a Halloween party if you don’t participate in the theme? That would just make you a poor sport.”

“I agree. I wouldn’t feel right showing up without participating. If we go, I’ll come up with something. It’s just that I’m not that into costumes.”

“Why? Is it too much effort?”

David, who had just spent the previous hour baking a popover from scratch and preparing homemade mochas to heighten our inaugural Sunday New York Times experience, scoffed at the notion. “If there was some kind of cooking-themed event, I could cook for three days, like I did for the mac-n-cheese party,” he said. “Effort is not the issue.”

“Then what is?” I asked.

David pondered the question, probably for the first time. “I guess I don’t like makeup,” he said.

I wondered how David’s aversion to costumes had escaped me for all these years. Now that I thought about it, we’d only celebrated Halloween a few times together. More often than not, David would stay home while I went to my sister Heather’s place in San Marcos. Halloween meant seeing my nieces and nephews in comical getups, pilfering candy from the plastic pumpkin by the front door, and participating in that age-old bartering system whereby adults exchange sugary goods for entertainment at their doorstep.

As a child, I loved devising elaborate costumes. It helped that my mother was a proficient seamstress and face-painter, as her skill led to the verisimilitude of my façade. When I became a spider web, in black clothing adorned with synthetic “webbing,” it was not the outfit so much as the makeup that made the costume. Mom had painted my entire face a silvery white; on my right cheek, she painted a lattice, and a giant black spider stretched from my brow down over my eye to my cheek.

In junior high, Mom transformed my face into that of a leopard woman. To make sure attention was directed to the craftsmanship on my face and hair (the real costume), my outfit comprised a featureless goldenrod shirt and pants. I went to school that morning thinking it was the raddest costume ever, but, apparently, I was wrong. Fellow classmates focused only on my clothing and taunted me all day by calling me names such as “banana girl.” That was the year I decided Halloween was for kids. I avoided costume parties until I turned 24 and went to Burning Man, where no ensemble was mocked, not even the enormous orange fish head I’d found at the Salvation Army and wore on my head the night of the burn.

The first time David and I dressed up for a Halloween shindig didn’t really count, as our “costume” comprised leather duds for David and a corset for me — we pretty much went as ourselves on a Saturday night on our way to a fetish-themed party. No effort was expended, and I was the only one who wore makeup.

Last year marked the second time we dressed up. The costume had been David’s idea. He’d seemed to enjoy the preparation, which is why I was surprised by his reluctance to do the same this year. Now I brought it up: “What about the liberal media elite costume from last year?”

“I wanted to go to the party more than I didn’t want to deal with a costume,” he said.

“Still, that was a great costume — no makeup and we wore regular clothes. It doesn’t get more comfortable than that.” The election had been only a few days away, and David capitalized on a political pundit buzz phrase with his conceptual idea. The only money spent was on the Harvard baseball cap he bought. I borrowed a television microphone from a newscaster friend, and David created a red, white, and blue “LME” logo to cover the station logo. I carried the mike and a clipboard, and David shouldered a large video camera he happened to have. On the clipboard was a list of “gotcha questions” David had spent hours composing. At the party, we made regular rounds so I could randomly thrust the microphone in front of someone’s face to ask questions such as “If your campaign controls the red states of Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois, how many houses would you own if you wanted to build hotels?” Some questions required an answer for the joke, such as, “If elected, would you support having [party host’s] home being made into an orphanage?” If the person answered yes, I’d declare them pro-communism, and if no, I’d accuse them of being anti-orphan.

“Now that I think about it, it was a lot of work,” I said. “I mean, I like that we didn’t have to wear elaborate clothing or spend time on makeup, but it’s really hard to hold a clipboard, a microphone, and a drink. Let’s think of something that leaves our hands free this time.”

“Wait a minute.” David squared his shoulders as though to brace himself against the force of my willfulness. “I didn’t say I was sure I wanted to go.” In response to my forlorn face, his body loosened and he said, “It’s just a lot of work that I don’t get that much enjoyment from.”

“Ah, so it is the effort.”

“Not effort in general,” David explained, “just effort I don’t really get anything from in return. With cooking, I enjoy the process, the challenge, the reaction to the meal, eating the meal, it’s all fun for me.”

I helped myself to a slice of popover and took my time applying jam as I considered the best approach to getting what I wanted, which was for David to agree to accompany me to the party and to invent another clever but easy costume for us both. I knew it was uncool to half-ass it, so ideally we could conceive of something that came across as awesome, regardless of how minimal the effort was to pull it off.

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Comments

Barbarella Fokos Oct. 21, 2009 @ 4:34 p.m.

But that's what I'm wearing now, Joe, so not really a costume. ;)

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PistolPete Oct. 21, 2009 @ 4:47 p.m.

Last year's costume for David was hilarious!

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SDaniels Oct. 21, 2009 @ 5:55 p.m.

I want to go as Barbarella's minxy brows ) ) ;)

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SurfPuppy619 Oct. 21, 2009 @ 6:22 p.m.

But that's what I'm wearing now, Joe,

By Barbarella

Wow, I am also wearing that outfit right now too...what a coincidencee.

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SDaniels Oct. 21, 2009 @ 6:25 p.m.

Wow, I am also wearing that outfit right now too...what a coincidencee.

By SurfPuppy619

============================

Nah, this is what SP is wearing:

http://www.costumediscounters.com/pet-costumes-mascots/pet-costumes/snow-princess-pet-costume-AP1005.html#

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SurfPuppy619 Oct. 21, 2009 @ 7:55 p.m.

Please SD, a "Snow Princess" costume!

Actually, I have always wanted to be a fighter pilot after seeing "Top Gun" on opening night at the 1,000 seat movie theater on University (who rememebrs the name of that theater?? now a multiplex);

http://www.snootypaws.com.au/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/03/aeroplane-dog-costume1.jpg

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SDaniels Oct. 21, 2009 @ 8:32 p.m.

Ok, then, how about the "K9 Fire Rescue Dog?" And you know you don't even have to hold a hose to make water!

http://spoiledrottendoggies.com/mcostumes.htm

[scroll down and try not to drool]

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SurfPuppy619 Oct. 21, 2009 @ 8:49 p.m.

"K9 Fire Rescue Dog?"

LOL.........

I think the name of the theater was the Panorama. It was on the south side of University just west of College, I know they made a big shopping center on that lot (used to have an IHOP in it) and also made a multiplex theater...there were only 3 movie theaters that had 1,000 seats-this one, the one at Mission Valley and the one at Grossmont Center-all now gone.

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Russ Lewis Oct. 21, 2009 @ 10:36 p.m.

Well, where's Jay Sanford when you need him?

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Joe Poutous Oct. 22, 2009 @ 8:25 a.m.

"But that's what I'm wearing now, Joe, so not really a costume. ;)"

pix?

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Jay Allen Sanford Oct. 23, 2009 @ 3:44 a.m.

Jay Allen Sanford, local cinema expert, to the rescue - you're thinking of the Cinerama Theater at 5889 University Avenue near College. It only sat 940 patrons, tho, not 1,000. Designed by modernist architect Richard George Wheeler, it opened in November 1962 and was San Diego's first theater built for widescreen and 70mm - it was demolished in 1988 and replaced by the Cinerama 6.

More than three San Diego theaters DID seat 1,000 and up -

The bigscreen Cinema Grossmont (550 Grossmont Center Drive) started at 1,000 capacity, tho it later expanded the seat sizes to seat just over 800 - it closed in February 1992.

The Cinema 21 in Mission Valley sat 1,100 in its largest configuration - it closed September 1998

The Valley Circle in Mission Valley (opened December 1966, demolished February 1998) sat around 1,200.

The State Theater at 47th Street and El Cajon Blvd (built 1938, demolished 1987) sat around 1,000 (later 900, after a remodel), and the Loma Theater at 3150 Rosecrans Boulevard (1945 to 1987) sat almost exactly 1,000 (today the building is a bookstore).

The Center Theater opened in 1965 and was divided into a three-screen venue in 1971, having previously sat 1,100. It closed in 1994, tho I think the building is still used as a retail space.

The California Theater downtown sat up to 2,000!

We just happen to be working on a Reader feature covering the history of our local bigscreen theaters, following up previous cover features on downtown’s grindhouse row theaters ( www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs/bands/... ) and the city’s drive-in theaters (http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs... ) –

There’s a terrific webpage on the old Cinerama Theater on University at www.myspace.com/sandiegocinerama .

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SurfPuppy619 Oct. 23, 2009 @ 8:45 a.m.

Jay Allen-you're the MAN!

I knew that the name had "rama" in it-the "Cinerama", thank you for clarifying that for me.

Also, I didn't know the Loma Theater seated over 1,000, was in it many, many times and it was by far the most elegant, art deco theater in San Diego-loved that theater. Too bad they made it into a bookstore!

The California Theater downtown was going to be torn down. I was there last in the late 80's or early 90's for a local show-don't know the status of it.

Anyway-I'm glad someone is keeping tabs on the history of these old theaters.

When we say "Top Gun" in 1986 at 8PM on opening night at the Cinerama the film sold out, and that film was a block buster. There is nothing that can compare to seeing that kind of film with 1,000 (or 940) other people who are going crazy just like you are. The best part of seeing Top gun on opening night with 1,000 other people was half of the Miramar Top Gun fighter school were there seeing it with us-they all came dressed in their flight outfits-which could only happen in San Diego.

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Joe Poutous Oct. 23, 2009 @ 12:57 p.m.

"Too bad they made it into a bookstore!"

At least they did not tear it down... it still has that rad deco facade.

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SurfPuppy619 Oct. 23, 2009 @ 2:17 p.m.

At least they did not tear it down... it still has that rad deco facade

Yes, Thank God they left the building and it's design intact!

Beautiful theater.

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