Discover more from Planet of the Earwigs
Pumpkin or not, you need to have one!
Is there any holiday greater than Halloween? The answer is, of course, no. If you think for a microsecond that it’s out-competed by Christmas, Thanksgiving, or Presidents’ Day, you are a sad husk of a human being and I’m beginning to wonder if we’re even friends. For shame! Now that it’s “socially acceptable” to start painting everything black and orange to celebrate the season, the time has arrived to select an enormous pumpkin to begin carving your jack-o’-lanterns!
What’s that? It’s only September and too early for such things? Bah, it’s never too early! But let’s say you don’t have easy access to a good pumpkin yet. What are you to do then? No worries, because I have this handy guide right here for creating alternative jack-o’-lanterns for those of you too lazy to actually go out and kneel before The Great Pumpkin in order to receive His offspring on which to carve your ghoulish faces!
You have probably seen these at your local home improvement stores. They are often stacked alongside those horrible inflatable decorations that besmirch every suburban landscape during Christmas and Halloween (though I have seen Easter themed inflatables in recent years). Often described as “no-mess,” these soft, vinyl squashes are an easy alternative to the real thing, are non-smashable (which is much better marketing than no-mess), and can be reused for many years to come. Light with an electric candle or flashlight and you are set to get your Freddie Kruger on! Just be sure to carve something that isn’t guaranteed to age poorly if you are planning on multiple uses, like “Elon 4Ever.”
Ah, the original no-mess pumpkin alternative! I was first introduced to this concept in kindergarten and am now realizing that I had a bad childhood. This was a classroom project that served as nothing more than busywork where we would draw our spooky faces on an inverted lunch bag and “carve” them out with safety scissors before stuffing them full of crumpled-up newspapers. There would always be that one kid who couldn’t use those scissors properly and would ruin his “jack-o’-lantern,” ask for another bag and cry as he botched it again, knowing that this would be the version displayed in the classroom before the school district banned Halloween for being “offensive.” We never illuminated these; they just sat on a table at the back of the class. I suppose if you wanted to try to make these scary, using a candle and watching it go up like an old Christmas tree in June would be pretty terrifying.
This one will require metal shears or some welding skills. Personally, I’d go with the latter as it would be much easier to design a scary visage on a decaying metal box than the janky shapes a pair of shears would likely create. Toolboxes are great because some of them already look like they have a face; it’s only a matter of turning a mundane happy or sad expression into one of unmitigated terror. Maybe the old box is sentient, as Pixar has shown us in the form of toys, and that it has finally realized that its long-time owner died decades ago, and that it is now a forgotten chunk of steel left to rot away in the back of an antique store never to be used again. Never to be remembered…
A Hollow Log
If you live near the woods and can safely hike through without getting mauled by a bear or Sasquatch, there’s a good chance that you can find yourself a decent sized log that has already been partially carved by termites or carpenter ants. Take that soggy old wood home and add it your meagre Halloween decor! Depending on its condition, it may need some work to bring out a truly spooky face. After all, you can’t let the insects hoard all the credit here. Taking a file or chisel, carefully exaggerate the rotten features into a hellish grin. Leave the creepy crawlies alone so that it looks as though your wooden jack-o-lantern is coughing up termites! Alternatively, if you happen to possess some sweet chainsaw skills (read: a proper Canadian) you could always apply that and carve yourself some green wood in full view of the neighbours. If they have any gripes, well, you know what to do with that saw!
Now this one will require some work but, damn it all, it’s Halloween! You will first have to gut that pumpkin by throwing away all of your things, tearing out all but the load bearing walls and support beams, and disposing of that junk. This will totally be worth it, trust me!
Next, paint an outline of your design on the front wall of your home, and carefully carve it out with reciprocating saws, sledgehammers, and other tools of destruction. Careful not to hit any electrical or water systems. Better yet, cut the main power to your home and turn off the water main. You may want to remove the copper wiring from the walls too. For later use. If you have gone and cut the power before you have finished the carving, you’ll probably need to get a generator or, if you’re smart, just run an extension cord from your neighbour’s house. They won’t mind at all once you tell them it’s for Halloween!
Finally, to make sure your jack-o-lantern is properly illuminated, you’ll want to light a couple bonfires inside. This is where gutting all that useless shit comes in handy for kindling and to allow room for the flames grow and let that house-pumpkin shine!
Don’t worry about anything else; that’s what homeowner’s insurance was made for!
Planet of the Earwigs is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.