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Starts With A Bang

Happy Halloween 2014: Manotaur edition!

For every Gravity Falls fan out there, this one’s for you.

Images: me (L); Disney Channel / Alex Hirsch et al. (R).

“Not man enough? NOT MAN ENOUGH? I have three Y chromosomes, six adams apples, pecs on my abs and FISTS FOR NIPPLES!” –Testosteraur

For those of you who haven’t known me for that long, Halloween has long been possibly my favorite of all holidays, as it’s the one day I feel I get to embrace a side of my own cartoonish weirdness and showcase it to the world. Last year, for example, I dressed as Rainbow Dash from My Little Pony, with costumes going back to previous years including Zangief, Wolverine, Macho Man, Ramses II, American Gladiators and many more.

For example, here’s my 2010 Halloween photo (L), with the real Macho Man Randy Savage, on the right for comparison.

But this year, there was a special, new cartoon show that won my heart and my halloween spirit over: Gravity Falls.

Image credit: Disney Channel / Alex Hirsch et al.

Two 12-year-old twins, Dipper and Mabel, go to spend the summer with their shyster great uncle, Grunkle Stan, who runs the “Mystery Shack” in (fictional) Gravity Falls, Oregon. The show is nothing short of brilliant, from the conceit that the Mystery Shack is full of a bunch of obviously fake “mysterious and supernatural” creatures and phenomena designed to sell junk to tourists, while the town and the woods themselves are actually full of legitimate supernatural forces, creatures and artifacts. It’s also great because it chronicles the struggles that real 12-year-olds struggle with: being caught between the two dissatisfying worlds of being a child, which they’re outgrowing, and yearning for adolescence and adulthood, which they’re not quite ready for.

Images credit: Disney Channel / Alex Hirsch et al.

And my favorite episode of the series (so far), that encapsulates this motif more than any other, is called “Dipper vs. Manliness,” where Dipper struggles with what it means to be a man, encountering a race of mythical beasts — the Manotaurs (like minotaurs, but more manly) — that work to train him in the art of manhood, placing him through a series of 50 trials.

Images credit: Disney Channel / Alex Hirsch et al.

This also leads to the greatest sub-1-minute montage in TV history as far as I’m concerned, where Dipper is trained by the Manotaurs to be a (stereotypical) man while his twin sister, Mabel, simultaneously trains Grunkle Stan in the opposite fashion: to be the type of man that a real woman might actually find desirable.

And that was what stole my heart: the lovable but ultimately misguided Manotaurs! (I have a dog in lieu of a Dipper in these photos. Deal with it.)

Despite leading Dipper astray with their overly manly advice, they also helped guide him in a direction that helped him find the path that’s right for him.

With the help of Grunkle Stan, he figures out that — in the end — being “a man” is actually what he figured out how to do by standing up for what he believed in even though no one agreed with him.

For those of you who need to know how to summon a Manotaur for yourself, I’ll let you in on the secret: it’s the smell of jerky. JERKY!!!

And if you want to catch me reprising this costume in the future, make sure you come to MidSouthCon 33 — from March 20–22, 2015 in Memphis — where I’ll be the science guest of honor, in my full Manotaur glory!

Happy Halloween, everyone, from me (and the Universe) to you!

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