Tag: tiger

QotW: Halloween Costumes

The Vox Diaspora Question of the Week is:

When you were young, what was your favorite Halloween costume? Even better if you have pictures to share!

My absolute favorite costume from when I was a kid is one I can’t remember wearing – for good reason.  I was just over 1 year old at the time.  It was a tiger costume that a friend of the family made and gave to my parents after I was born.

Ross as a Halloween Tiger (1980) Ross at Halloween (1980)

Of course, the costume was so well-made that it got passed on to my brothers, who each wore it in turn.  Then my parents boxed it up and put it away, only to pull it out in time to give to Dee and I for our kids to wear!

Bumblebee and Tiger going for a rideTiger ROARS!

I’m not sure what we’re going to do with the costume now – probably box it up and pass it on to someone else in the family when they have a little one the same age…

As for costumes as I grew older – I can’t remember many of them, but think that a vampire was one of my standard go-to costumes.  Mostly because it just required a vinyl cape & plastic fangs.  The mask was optional, but made me feel cooler:

Ross, Ben and David at Halloween 1986 (Note Ben the Happy Transformer and David the Tiger as we prepare to go trick-or-treating together)

Pardoned for My Crimes Against Fashion

Growing up, I was never known to have the greatest fashion sense.  As a kid, this didn't really matter – I was always sort of off in my own little world and the rules of proper couture were about as interesting (and useful) as learning the proper way to clean out an oven.  Of course, my habit of committing the occasional fashion faux pas was in part derived from loving but somewhat misguided attempts by my parents and grandparents to give me "stylish" clothes; while some clothes may actually have been stylish at the time, I can definitively state that the almost-neon-yellow shorts I wore in 9th grade did not fall in that category.  My classmates who asked me how many batteries my shorts required did not dissuade me from wearing them, but made me all too aware of their….uniqueness.

And then there was my love of red pants as a kid:

I don't know that there's any excuse for these.  I do remember thinking they were uber-cool at the time.  In fact, I thought they were so cool, I wore a pair to my 8th-grade graduation.  Where I was valedictorian.  And had to give a speech in front of the entire graduating class and their parents:

While the red pants may be the benchmark of my fashion statement atrocities, there were many other times that I'm sure I came close:

I think the color scheme goes great with the carpet, don't you?Batting .000 in this outfitWhat? They said wear a sheet for the toga party, right?At least I'm in good company on this one

OK, OK, I may be going a little over the top.  I mean, when I did make the effort, I cleaned up pretty well:

Brothers in tiesYou're not styling unless you've got a cane...Shaken, not stirred, pleaseBrothers at graduation

I pride myself on having come out of the fashion slump somewhere around the end of high school, and now dress relatively sanely.  I can always count on my wife to point out my more egregious offenses, but since they're now few and far between, hopefully it's not too onerous a task for her to take on.

Of course, every once in a while I still have a craving for red pants.  But I try to ignore it, and bury the urge in something productive, like dressing up my daughter in a tiger costume.

Ross at Halloween (1980)Violet plays with her flashlight

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Ross Reads: Life of Pi

Life of Pi
Yann Martel

Life of Pi by Yann Martel is one of those novels that everyone and their mother seems to have read about 5 years ago, but ended up on my bookshelf, only to be overlooked and forgotten in multiple moves.  I finally pulled it out to take with me on my trip to Houston and ended up absolutely loving it.

Piscine Molitor Patel, known to "all" as Pi (i.e. 3.14), comes from a small Indian territory called Pondicherry.  Son of a zookeeper, Pi has spent part of his youth exploring and practicing multiple religions, from his native Hinduism to Islam to Christianity.  When Pi is sixteen, his family and their zoo animals emigrate from India to Canada aboard a Japanese cargo ship, which sinks along the way.  Pi finds himself stuck in a lifeboat with a number of zoo animals, including a 450-pound Bengal tiger.

The book tells more than the story of a stranded teenager and his ark full of animals.  It is a look into religious beliefs and faith, the importance (or lack thereof) of material goods in one's life, and the indomitable will of human beings and animals to not only survive, but flourish under conditions of adversity.  Pi's story is told non-linearly, with interruptions to recount stories of his past or accounts of interviews that occur in his future.  Rather than detracting from the plot, this only serves to strengthen the story-line and give deeper emotion to every castaway scene the reader encounters.

Yann Martel's prose is beautiful and humorous.  Descriptions of the littlest thing can leave you wondering why you never looked at the item that way before, and his observations on people and religions are interesting and often profound.  "Pi" characterizes scientists early on as:

I never had problems with my fellow scientists.  Scientists are a friendly, atheistic, hard-working, beer drinking lot whose minds are preoccupied with sex, chess and baseball when they are not preoccupied with science.

But one of my favorite passages deals with his philosophical view of life and death:

When you've suffered a great deal in life, each additional pain is both unbearable and trifling.  My life is like a memento mori painting from European art: there is always a grinning skull at my side to remind me of the folly of human ambition.  I mock this skull.  I look at it and I say, "You've got the wrong fellow.  You may not believe in life, but I don't believe in death.  Move on!"  The skull snickers and moves ever closer, but that doesn't surprise me.  The reason death sticks so closely to life isn't biological necessity-it's envy.  Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, a jealous, possessive love that grabs what it can.  But life leaps over oblivion lightly; losing only a thing or two of no importance, and gloom is but the passing shadow of a cloud.

Life of Pi
lends an element of the fantastic to the story, while at the same time appears as if the story could have be an all-too-real occurrence.  The unique blend of zoological, philosophical, and religious insights draws you in and lets your mind chew on a heavy meal while your eyes hunger for the rest of Pi's castaway tale.  It's a brilliant story by a wonderful storyteller, and one I'd recommend for anyone who wants a deeper look into the human condition.

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