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I sense your pain: Halloween is coming up on Tuesday, and you still haven't figured out your costume. 

You've worked through the entire stable of Pokemon. You investigated "My Little Pony" options, but it's too much of a pain to get that rainbow tattoo etched onto your flanks. And the Mike Myers masks are completely sold out at every store — thank you very much, "Baby Driver."

Relax. I'm here to help. And trust me on this: Nothing will testify to your hipness more than a costume that is ripped from the headlines. 

Oh, I don't mean a Donald Trump mask: That's already passe, unless you want to recycle one of last year's "Angry Birds" costumes and try to go as one of Trump's tweets. And don't try to pull off Bernie Sanders, either; everyone will think you were trying for a Larry David look and missed the mark.

No, I'm thinking you should try for a costume inspired by state and local headlines. 

Of course, you'll want to steer clear of certain state and local news stories. For example, while it might seem tempting to try to create a total eclipse costume, there's a considerable risk that it could touch off some touchy racial overtones. Best avoid that.

But feel free to try out some of these suggestions. Let me know how they turned out for you during Halloween.

• You'll set tongues a-wagging if you go to your Halloween soiree dressed up as the unfunded liability in the state of Oregon's Public Employees Retirement System. This costume allows you to take up to 30 percent of all the candy amassed by other party attendees; actually, as the party wears on, the percentage of treats you can take increases. This will be especially fun to try out with the trick-or-treaters who are showing up on the front porch. Here's a bonus: If the party you're attending features people dressed up as Gov. Kate Brown, those people will completely ignore you.

• Dress up as one of the stand-in councilors on the Albany City Council. As many of us learned last week, that government body allows councilors who will be absent for a time to designate people to sit in for them on the council, although the designees don't get to vote. Yes, we know the policy is silly, but it still could make for a fun costume. There is a downside: Although the costume allows you to follow your kids onto the porches in your neighborhood, you can't actually say "Trick or treat." And don't even think of raiding your kids' candy stashes; who do you think you are, the PERS unfunded liability? 

• If you're a registered voter in Benton County, you have that Nov. 7 bond levy issue ahead of you. So try this: Turn your ballot in at the Elections Office in the basement of the courthouse, and see if you can talk the clerk out of 25 or so of those "I Voted" stickers. (Say they're for your friends; you want to remind them to vote because you're a good citizen.) On Halloween, paste all 25 of the stickers on your body and go as voter fraud. The upside: The costume is extremely cheap and actually could remind others to vote. The downside: a subpoena from Kris Kobach's advisory commission on electoral integrity.

• Go as former Oregon State University football coach Gary Andersen and just walk away from the candy.

• Here's a time-honored and relatively inexpensive costume that works in university towns like Corvallis: Gather three or four of your friends, put together a PowerPoint presentation on any topic whatsoever, and go as a panel discussion. This works best if you have a designated moderator, but that person has to lug around the podium.

• I tried to think of cheap costumes that would illustrate other government and academic cliches — shifting the paradigm, moving the cheese and so forth — but came up empty. And isn't Paradigm one of the new X-Men? But here's a possibility: Grab a box. When someone asks you what your costume is, set the box on the floor, step away from it, and thoughtfully raise a hand to your chin. Yes! You're thinking outside the box! No need to thank me. 

Finally, if you want a costume that literally is ripped from the headlines, grab any edition of any newspaper, cut out all the headlines, and attach them to your clothes. Voila! You're an episode of "Law & Order."


Mike McInally is editor of the Albany Democrat-Herald and Corvallis Gazette-Times. Contact him at He is reconsidering that Twilight Sparkle "My Little Pony" costume.


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