Virtual Haunts for Your Inner Goblin

Published: October 30, 2003

ALTHOUGH research shows that Halloween is the second most commercial
holiday(after you-know-what), you may be disinclined to outfit yourself as,
say,Sponge Bob or Pocahontas and trek door to door. In the age of the
Internet, there is no need to have anything but a virtual costume -- indeed, you
can experience the entire holiday without leaving the computer.
For the members of, for example, every day is
Halloween. In this so-called MUSH -- ''multi-user shared hallucination'' -- those
who log on portray various types of characters: vampires, werewolves,
ordinary humans.

''It's a gothic punk horror milieu,'' said one of the self-described
''wizards'' behind the site, who would identify herself only as Riddle.
Of the Mortals and Special Mortals she oversees, she said by e-mail,
''When they're I.C., or in character, they basically are portraying a totally
different person.''
Whether a vampire is a person to begin with is another question -- one
that might answered by the Federal Vampire and Zombie Administration
(, which provides a timeline of
''significant events in vampire history.'' Who needs all that teeth-rotting Halloween
candy when you can stay home and learn about the New York vampire riots
of 1882, or the ban on vampire blood research purportedly imposed by the
United Nations in 1967 (but lifted by President Ronald Reagan in 1986)?
Whether you believe what you read is up to you, but of course, suspending disbelief
is what Halloween is all about.

The New Mexico Ghost Towns pages (
can provide a virtual whirl through the uninhabited places that dot the
Land of Enchantment. The ghost towns are even ranked by David Pike, an amateur
historian and ghost-town aficionado: a rating of four ghosts indicates,
''You must see this place to have lived a full life.''
Seeing ghost towns is one thing, and seeing ghosts is quite another.

The Adopt a Baby Ghost Web site (
actually allows you to become the parent of one. Just fill in a form
and hit ''send'' to embark on your responsibilities. Perhaps you've had a close
encounter with ghosts and do not see them as adoptable creatures? Then
you may prefer Shadowlands Ghosts and Hauntings (,
a repository of over 6,600 ''true ghost stories.'' The proprietors seem
to have strong credentials: Dave Juliano is co-director of South Jersey
Ghost Research, and Tina Carlson runs the Las Vegas Society of Supernatural

Any good story might be enhanced by a soundtrack, and Midis from the
Crypt ( offers tunes for download at
no cost. Offerings range from the benign, like the ''Bewitched'' TV theme
song, to the annoying (the theme from ''The Munsters'') to the truly haunting
(the theme from ''Edward Scissorhands'').

These songs will undoubtedly put you in the mood for some pumpkin
carving, which you can do without fear of injury (to yourself or the pumpkin) in
a variety of places. The carving at
is a little like shading in circles on a standardized test, enabling
you to
choose the eyes, nose and mouth you want your Jack to have; at,
you drag and drop the features. Should you want to dispose of mutilated pumpkin in a ritualistic fashion,fire up the oven, dial up the Great Pumpkin Cookies recipe
( and bake away.

If you prefer other, more traditional Halloween sweets, you can revert
to munching on that incarnation of sugar, candy corn, the ''king of
Halloween candy'' -- a confection popularized, according to the Haunted Bay site
(, by one Gustav Goelitz,
who began commercial production of the treat in Cincinnati in 1898.
Halloween accounts for 75 percent of annual candy corn production, the site
If such virtual trick-or-treating puts you in the mood to venture forth
in a costume after all, Help! for the Costume Impaired
should be your last stop. The site has a last-minute ''instant
costume'' section, suggestions for couples, families and pregnant women, and a
list of criteria that the authors believe make a good costume. (As with all
wardrobes, accessories are important.)

''Try having fun with your fears and neuroses and appear as someone or
something that no one could have predicted,'' advises Louise
Krasniewicz, the site's proprietor. ''Fears about becoming fat or old or ugly can be
played out in hilarious and possibly therapeutic ways.'' Halloween can be cathartic, whether enjoyed online or in the streets.