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September 11, 2006:
And so begins the 2006 X-Entertainment Halloween Countdown -- our fourth year celebrating all things spooky together. Most of you know the drill, but if not, it's pretty simple. Every weekday between now and Halloween, you get an article. Some of the articles will be about new stuff. Some will be about old stuff. Some will be bad comic strips starring ghosts who hate each other. We'll have a blast.
I wanted to ring in the Countdown with something special, and in the form of a repurposed garbage bag and one birthday balloon, I think I've found it: The Funkins Skeleton.
The "Flying Funkins" Halloween assortment arrived in 1990, and if you grew up around the same time as me, you don't have to know the brand by name to remember seeing them hanging off of 50% of your neighbors' front yard trees during Octobers past. We've all used a box of Kleenex to make armies of hanging "tissue ghosts." Flying Funkins were the same idea, only bigger and more expensive.
I rarely see people put out decorations for Halloween in a major way anymore -- I mean, outside of pumpkins on the front stoop and maybe an autumn wreath on the door. Yeah, there's always the few houses that go all out and shove life-sized Cenobite mannequins on the lawn, but they're the exception. I don't think it's necessarily because people stopped caring about Halloween; it's that the decorations have largely gotten very expensive and/or very catering to a more hardcore demo which seeks out decorations like, I dunno, three-headed Dobermans with red eyes who electronically froth.
That's why decorations like Flying Funkins are so timeless. They're good for bright sunny families, but even people with fake corpses on their front porch give 'em a pass, because they're the grandfathers of those fake corpses. It's like how many horror fans include Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens on their best movie lists when they really meant to say Saw II. Something like that.
For something so unbelievably simplistic, I was having a heck of a hard time making sense of the instructions. Like, I still don't get the diagram. I'm not sure what's going on there. Hanger in the balloon? Hanger on the balloon? Hanger hook bent around the balloon?
The set included everything one needs to make their Funkin fly, but the balloon was feeling its age and managed to pop on my first exhale. If you've never had the opportunity to try blowing up a fifteen-year-old balloon, I can't recommend it enough. The balloon "skin" assumes properties far different than that of any other material on the planet. For the brief moments before it explodes and becomes useless, you'll have a little slice of Mars in your hands.
The kit came with these impressive twisty-ties that make Flying Funkins work better, but somewhere over the course of the last few days, I lost them. When the time came to take pictures, I ransacked every inch of the apartment trying to have a beautiful reunion with the twisty-ties. No luck. It's actually a sore subject right now; I blamed the woman and have adopted the theory that she unknowingly threw them away. She says I lose stuff all the time. That's true, but I know where I put those twisty-ties. They were right there on the kitchen table, on top of a magazine or one of those catalogs that sell incontinence diapers and stow-and-go wheelchairs. I don't know why I'm on that mailing list.
In the end, the impressive twisty-ties were gone, and I was forced to use far less impressive twisty-ties stolen from our box of garbage bags. I'm still hurting.
Tossing aside the instructions because my brain wasn't good enough to process them, I went with my instincts. I married a few garbage ties and a red balloon, and slid the bitch up ghosty's skirt till she couldn't take it no mo'. Then, for the first time in seven months, I went outside.
Hey now! Even when created imperfectly, Flying Funkins still look pretty good. I could've lived without the "Here Lies Dem Bones" tombstone, but on the other hand, it gives credence to the argument that the skeleton once belonged to a Jamaican conch smuggler who partied by night. It's nice to believe that dem bones aren't just generic bones.
The idea is that the Flying Funkin will "fly" in the wind. It wasn't very windy today, but there were enough powerful gusts for me to realize that my skeleton Funkin isn't going to be very long-lived. Not sure how well a plastic bag and one balloon are going to fare against the rain. I'm tempted to keep a window-side vigil and document the progress, but that would require more than three minutes of effort, and what's the point of buying a Flying Funkins kit if you're willing to give your projects more than three minutes?
There were three other Flying Funkins available, and judging by the pictures, I'd say that my skeleton is second only to the vampire. Also available were Halloween leaf bags -- one of the season's staples -- in pumpkin, witch, ghost, skull and vampire varieties. Nearby was a printed warning telling us that "plastic bags can be dangerous," but I think they only said that to make plastic bags feel more in tune with the Halloween spirit. Also, because the Funkins company consisted of equal rights nuts, I now know how to say "plastic bags can be dangerous" in Spanish.
The "Funkins" brand seems to have been lost at sea; Google searches only tell me that the word "Funkins" now applies exclusively to those fake foam pumpkins that people sometimes buy instead of real pumpkins because they're assholes. Makes me sad, but the spirit lives on in the widely varied assortment of like-styled Halloween decorations that challenge us to frighten people with plastic bags and prayers for wind.
Volsas plasticas pueden ser peligrosas, and welcome to the 2006 X-Entertainment Halloween Countdown. See ya tomorrow.
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