November 2nd, 2008
The mission: to build a Halloween costume that’s both politically topical and DOESN’T involve Sarah Palin. The constraints: limited time, weak hand/eye coordination, no patience. Bonus for: shininess. The result: political robocalls, embodied in physical form. Instructions and after-action report below the break.
Please note that this costume is not for amateurs — you’ll be in a box for hours, which takes both skill and commitment. Also, you’ll want to use the solid construction techniques described below, since people will try to answer your phone all night long (believe you me).
- You’re wearing a box.
- You’ll realize quickly that if you’re wearing a box, you’re functionally immobile in a crowded room.
- This has pluses and minuses.
- Pluses: those who fear being bowled over by your box may get you a beer when you need one; party guests can amuse themselves by trying to look down your box; you’re shiny.
- Minuses: dick-in-a-box jokes; immobility (beware bores, as you have little means of escape); chance of poking someone’s eyeball out with a flagpole; risk of fire (note: avoid open flames).
- Try turning somewhat sideways — see if you can flatten out and slice neatly through the line to the bathroom.
- Top edge of box makes an excellent drink-stand.
- Dangling phone cord makes an equally good flagellant.
- Non-politicos will look at you blankly when you explain what you are, so pick your parties carefully.
- Don’t expect to be asked to slow-dance, even to Journey.
- Cardboard box, one or more as necessary.
- Silver spraypaint.
- Silver tape.
- Telephone, one, preferably with a plastic base and of sleek and modern design (the phone illustrated came from a thrift shop years ago and bravely sacrificed itself Friday for the cause of Halloween).
- Power drill.
- Bolts, two (NOT sharp-tipped screws).
- Nuts, two.
- Washers, two.
- Flags, American, four.
- Blocks of styrofoam, small, two; or hacksaw, one.
- Super glue.
- Pants of appropriately robotic design or pattern (I wore some plaid pajama bottoms from Meeps that looked digital-ish).
- Shirt(s) of appropriately robotic hue.
- Shoes, two (for most), to taste (tip: you’ll want stability when you’re walking around a crowded party in a box).
- A crowded party.
- Finagle invitation to appropriately crowded party.
- Assemble box.
- Place box over body and try on for size (aim for as tight a fit as possible, to maximize maneuverability).
- Reinforce box corners with silver tape.
- Position and cut arm holes in box sides, near but not too near what will be top of costume.
- Spraypaint entire box silver, outdoors or in a ventilated area (try not to spraypaint yourself in the process).
- Let box dry overnight someplace where the cat won’t knock it over.
- Remove top cover from phone.
- Drill two holes in base of phone, widely separated, near what will be the top of the device when it’s in place (see photo above).
- Position phone base in place on box and mark cardbard through holes.
- Puncture box where marked.
- Thread bolts through phone base and holes in box, with washers on the interior side of box.
- Tighten nuts to appropriate tension, to taste.
- Depending on which way the bolts fit best, you may now have two metal spikes pointing at your chest when costume is on. If so, be glad you got the blunt ones. Either cut the ends off with a hacksaw or cover them with styrofoam blocks or other padding, just in case (sucking chest wounds do tend to kill a buzz, unless you’re into that sort of thing).
- Reattach phone shell to base and secure in place, using super glue as needed.
- Glue phone receiver to phone.
- Tape flags to interior side of back of box.
- Decorate box exterior with silver tape, to taste and supply.
- Place box over body.
- Attend party.
- Return home intact, or at least happy.
The verdict: huzzah!