Tombstones are planted in the flower beds. A witch appears to have flown into a tree and is suspended there, broom sticking out from the trunk. An undead crone, motion sensitive, accosts passers-by from the hedge. On my otherwise very quiet, very nothing-to-see-here Brooklyn block, there’s a lot to see this time of year. I arrive home to tourists taking pictures with the skeletons.
This spectacle is aggressively, delightfully low-tech. I asked a six-year-old who was talking to the talking crone if he was scared of her, and he looked at me with pity, as one does at a fraidy cat who’s got to toughen up or the world will swallow her whole.
But in spite of the ghouls and revenants and other morbid players from the sidewalk boneyard, Halloween is a holiday for the living. In a world that feels irretrievably online, where our every interaction is mediated by technology, Halloween, weirdly, is not.
Trick-or-treating is an embodied activity. You have to show up. A Halloween costume is a physical get-up: You wear it out into the real world, where you interface with real people and get real candy. How quaint it seems when you think about it! For all the ways in which we might find legitimate fault with Halloween — it’s too commercial, it’s culturally insensitive, it promotes greed and tooth decay — it’s a refreshingly mundane celebration.
Virtual worlds have their virtues. Video games like Minecraft and Roblox can be refuges, realms for creative expression and imaginative play. But the more beguiling our digital diversions, the more it seems essential to look for, and to insist on, activities that require our physical presence.
So much of the way we interact with one another is asynchronous: text messages, voice memos, social media comments; we’re in our own orbits, colliding occasionally. On Halloween we have a script for deliberate connection: I knock on the door, you answer the door, we connect in real time. We’re wearing disguises, but actually, for tonight at least, we show up as ourselves.
Meet a professional pumpkin carver.
Halloween is for kids — and “kidults,” too.
The cheapest and creepiest Halloween décor is a bunch of old dolls, decrees Wirecutter.
“That is the promise of a virtual world: that you get to be anybody you want, unhampered by flesh, gravity, environment, expectations and economics.” How will we dress in the metaverse?
THE WEEK IN CULTURE
Dave Chappelle, who has made a career of courting controversy, did so again this week when he commented on the war between Israel and Hamas during a stand-up set, leading some in the audience to walk out.
That Chappelle would wade into such a fraught topic was not surprising, the Times comedy critic Jason Zinoman wrote: “He has embraced the sober truth-teller role, telling magnetic stories that sometimes end in lessons, not punchlines.”
“Tommy,” the rock opera by The Who, is returning to Broadway next year. The original stage production opened in 1993 and won five Tony Awards.
Silvio Berlusconi bought some 25,000 paintings, many on TV-shopping binges, before he died this year. His heirs don’t know what to do with them.
On Francesca Scorsese’s TikTok page, her dad, Martin — yes, that one — is a budding social media star.
In “Priscilla,” the director Sofia Coppola re-examines Elvis Presley from the perspective of the woman he married. Our critic calls it “stealthily devastating.”
Taylor Swift released “1989 (Taylor’s Version),” a rerecording of her blockbuster 2014 album. Lindsay Zoladz wrote about “Slut!,” a never-before-heard song from that era.
Do you remember your first scary movie? Times readers told us about the films that freaked them out as kids — everything from “The Exorcist” to “The Wizard of Oz” to “Air Bud.”
THE LATEST NEWS
The Israeli military made incursions into the Gaza Strip overnight, after launching an intense bombardment with artillery and missiles. Details from the fighting were scarce because Gaza’s internet and cell service were down.
An Israeli military spokesman said troops had crossed the border, but he declined to say if the incursion was the start of a full-scale ground invasion.
U.S. airstrikes on weapons stockpiles in Syria were meant to deter attacks by Iran and its proxies. Hours later, those proxies launched a drone attack on U.S. troops in Iraq.
Hundreds of protesters crowded into Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan last night calling for a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war.
Other Big Stories
The gunman suspected of killing 18 people in Lewiston, Maine was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, ending a two-day manhunt.
The suspect’s body was found on Friday night at a recycling center southeast of Lewiston where he used to work. But it’s unclear when he died.
Maine authorities identified the shooting victims, who ranged in age from 14 to 76. They include a bowling alley employee and a deaf man who was playing cornhole with his friends.
Testifying at his federal criminal trial, Sam Bankman-Fried denied committing fraud but acknowledged “mistakes” at FTX, the cryptocurrency exchange he founded.
📺 “The Gilded Age” (Sunday): Dust off your top hats and feathered headdresses. After much delay, HBO’s sumptuous upstairs-downstairs ensemble drama, created by Julian Fellowes, returns for a second season. Set among old money and new in 1880s New York, the first season of this period piece sometimes struggled to deliver compelling characters and narratives beyond all that embroidery and lace. But what embroidery! What lace!
📚 “Being Henry: The Fonz … and Beyond” (Tuesday): Ayyy! Despite career-best work in the recently concluded HBO comedy “Barry,” Henry Winkler remains inseparable from Arthur Fonzarelli, the sweet-hearted greaser of the TV classic “Happy Days.” In this new autobiography, he reveals the man beneath the leather. Celebrity autobiographies are a tricky proposition. We want the struggle, the agony. But when someone has made the cover of People more than once, we tend to doubt that agony. Still, Winkler, who’s been described to me on multiple occasions as one of the nicest men in Hollywood, has plenty of stories to tell — good, bad and shark-jumping. I’ll be reading.
RECIPE OF THE WEEK
When was the last time you baked a big, bubbling pan of chicken Parmesan? My recipe hits all the right notes: gooey, cheesy, rich but balanced. It’s a classic iteration that does involve a fair amount of work: You have to bread and then fry all the chicken cutlets before layering them in the casserole dish. But the results are well worth the effort, with the crisp cutlets holding their own against that pleasing onslaught of tomato sauce and two kinds of cheese. Make it for a festive weekend dinner, then save the leftovers to stuff into sandwiches for the best weekday lunches.
What you get for $400,000: A Craftsman house in Oklahoma City; a two-bedroom bungalow in North Charleston, S.C.; and a renovated 1850s cottage in New Orleans.
The hunt: A pair of data analytics managers brought their Brooklyn budget to the New Jersey suburbs. Which house would be theirs? Play our game.
Calculator: Qualifying incomes for standard mortgages on typical homes have gone through the roof. Here’s how much money you need to make.
At home with: Roz Chast, the wry New Yorker cartoonist, says she is “terrible at decorating.” What do you think?
Travel: Want to see the world in a new way? Visit Vietnam, where some of the world’s longest cable cars crisscross the country.
Heels: Why do so many women still wear stilettos?
Gardenheir: The brand’s mix of Martha Stewart-inspired clothes, heritage tools and colorful clogs caters to actual and want-to-be gardeners alike.
ADVICE FROM WIRECUTTER
For people who are always cold and who get frustrated with blankets slipping off their shoulders, a wearable sleeping bag might be a perfect, albeit silly-looking, solution. Shaped like a traditional sleeping bag but with a cinched hole at the bottom and zippered armholes, a wearable sleeping bag sits close to the wearer’s body and allows them to keep their hands free for all sorts of sedentary activities, like working at a desk in an underheated room, socializing outside on a crisp fall evening or reading a book in the early winter sunshine. — Annemarie Conte
GAME OF THE WEEKEND
F.C. Barcelona vs. Real Madrid, El Clásico: These two Spanish soccer clubs have been playing one another for more than 120 years. Somehow, after all that time, the record is nearly even — Madrid with 102 wins, Barcelona with 100. In the 2010s, the rivalry was a showcase for the world’s best players, with Cristiano Ronaldo playing for Madrid and Lionel Messi for Barcelona. But those stars have left Spain in the twilight of their careers. Now, a new generation is rising, The Times’s Rory Smith writes. Barcelona is particularly youthful — 17-year-old Marc Guiu scored in his debut match last week, and 16-year-old Lamine Yamal is the youngest player ever to score in Spain’s La Liga. 10 a.m. Eastern on ESPN Plus.
The Athletic visited Rocafonda, the humble neighborhood where Yamal was raised.
As part of Barcelona’s sponsorship deal with Spotify, the team will wear jerseys featuring The Rolling Stones’ logo.