Oct 15, 2016

Halloween Web - Mike K

Today's Halloween Web guest has the distinction of not only being someone that I actually know out in the real world but we also went to high school together. While other people were trying to learn Spanish, we were discussing Star Wars, Heavy Metal (the movie) and quoting Monty Python.

So without further ado, here's Mike's interview.
Don't worry, it won't be any sort of Spanish Inquisition.

Have a seat in the comfy chair and tell the folks about yourself.

My name is Michael Kenneally.  I work for a company based in St. Louis, MO called The Keefe Group, a supplier of food products, personal care products, electronics, clothing, technology, telecommunications and software solutions to the correctional market (I ripped that right from the website, to be honest...my memory isn't that good).  Since I moved here to the Gateway City I've worked in several jobs in the IT field, mostly in client/customer support and supervisory positions.  Right now I'm the Technical Supervisor for Access SecurePak, one subdivision of Keefe, where I lead a team that maintains the online ordering system.  I've also written over a dozen novels, all currently unpublished, but I'm working toward that being my last career.

What was Halloween like for you as a child?

I grew up in Southeastern Massachusetts. Halloween was the fulcrum upon which all of my kid life balanced.  Christmas was cool--don't get me wrong. Growing up in SE New England meant chilly climes for trick or treating, so too often the fine craftsmanship of the latex tailors were often covered by a winter coat. Every so often I'd convince my mom or dad to let me ditch the outerwear if I felt the full effect of the costume was being missed by the folks on the other side of the door and the candy haul started to thin out due to my lack of impressing the poor saps answering the door for the umpteenth time on those cold nights.  Often, I'd end up with a cold.  But it was always worth it when my sisters and I would get home and pour out the bacchanalia on the floor and marvel and the gullibility of the adults in the neighborhood.  Generosity is an idea children come to much later in their development.  We just thought we got that candy by threatening the adults with tricks.

Do you have any outstanding Halloween memories to share?

While living in Whitman there was a lesbian couple that lived down the street.  This must have been 1978 or 1979, so any variance from the nuclear family was viewed by the children with high levels of curiosity and with great disdain from the parents.  Had we grown up in any other region of the country, there might have been issues.  But as I was quick to discover, the two nice ladies that lived in that house weren't monsters or witches or anything but what they really were--two women who lived together and presumably loved each other.  It's not a funny story, but it was during my formative years when I realized very early on that reality was how we perceived it and only we could decide how we saw the world.  I saw two people living together.  My peers saw something else and called them all manner of metaphors.  As a frail kid who was often bullied, I never thought it was okay to help people pour salt into the wounds of others.  It taught me not to judge, but just to try and be as happy as I could.

What about favorite costumes?

Halloween was the chance to be creative about a holiday, to go through the cornucopia of boxed costumes stacked up like cord wood in stores like K-Mart, Bradlees, and Mammoth Mart to find just that right combination to match whatever was hot for us little people during the 70's and 80's.  I don't recall what I wore for my first Halloween--I'm sure my parents dressed me up like a pumpkin or some other silly costume as a toddler, but once Star Wars came out, a long line of cheap yet elegant costumes made their debut into my Halloween wardrobe: Luke, Stormtrooper, Han, and even Boba Fett (that one was the shit). (Agreed, I had the Boba too!)

Not actually Mike. Image courtesy Plaid Stallions
How do you celebrate Halloween these days?

We hang up decorations--more so during Halloween than we do for Xmas--and start watching scary movies.  My wife isn't as hot about horror movies as I am, but she's okay with watching Thriller video and a few of the classics.  We just try to embrace the holiday as much as we can, and be as generous to the kids in our neighborhood so they can have fun memories to pass along to their kids, hopefully, when they grow up and start a family.

Every year my wife and I participate in NaNoWriMo (short for National Novel Writing Month) where each participant attempts to write a 50k word novel over the duration of the month.  On the night before we throw a party where we encourage people to dress up, have a few hours fun, and then at the stroke of midnight start writing.  While our visitors party, everyone shares in the duty of answering the door to the kids.  I don't want to have our house TP'd, so we're the cool house.  No one or two pieces of candy per kid, no sir.  We go big for Halloween candy, buying several large bags from Costco, and then buying some more, and give out pounds by the hour.

Without fail, during the party, The Rocky Horror Picture show is playing on the PS4.  It's such a great movie to have on for when people come and go intermittently throughout the night, joining in on songs even as they step through the door.  Our friends seem to share the same geek DNA as us, and our tastes pretty much run true to type.

Why do you think Halloween sticks with us even as adults?

It isn't dependent upon any religion or belief system, so it's as inclusive as a holiday can get.  Valentine's Day is geared toward the person with a significant other, Christmas has that whole Jebus vibe and the pressure from the in-laws to attend a church service that I can't get behind, and the same goes for Easter.  It's the one holiday where there are few established rules of conduct and invites, rather encourages, one to celebrate it with the intent of having fun.  That may not be what the REAL meaning of All Hallow's Eve is, but I say to those who would give me a history lesson about Samhain and all that super cool facts: "Shhhhhh, let people enjoy things."

Inside the Spookster's Studio

The worst thing while trick or treating was finishing the neighborhood circuit and realizing there were more unlit porch lights this year than last. Just give up the candy.  Let kids be kids.  It's rough being a little guy or gal and trying to figure out what you like without having adults forget what it's like to dress up and act silly.  We forget what it's like to be a kid.

My favorite thing was getting a house with someone who still got it, and remembered what it was like to run around the neighborhood and act like an idiot without hurting anyone and before bath salts, before booze (ahh, sweet, sweet booze) replaced candy as the nepenthe to our crazy lives.  I'd love walking up to a house I'd never visited only to find smiling faces and questions about what I was wearing and a sincere interest in my having fun.  It was awesome because it didn't happen often, but when it did it made me feel like dressing up and going out into the deep freeze was worth it.  Besides, it helped keep my dentist in business.

Where can folks keep up with your goings-on?

If you want to keep an eye on my writing progress or just see whatever I might be thinking about at any given moment, follow me on Twitter @MCK_STL.

A huge thanks to Mike for stopping by to chat about the most wonderful time of the year.

Be sure to check out all the Countdown to Halloween bloggers by clicking below!

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