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'Cecil The Lion,' 'Clock Boy,' Other Newsmakers Become Latest Halloween Costume Ideas


I'm not going to lie to you. I have my costume on right now. You can check it out on Facebook if you like. And I recognize that Halloween used to be just for the grammar school set. You might throw on an old bedsheet, draw a mustache with a burnt cork or grab a cheap costume of comic book heroes, princesses or TV stars.

HOWARD BEIGE: Captain Kirk, let's say, from "Star Trek." It would be a plastic jumpsuit with a picture of the Enterprise printed on the chest.

MARTIN: That's Howard Beige of Rubies Costume Co., one of the largest costume manufacturers in the country. He says that over the course of the 60 years his family has been in the business, the holiday has turned into an all-ages celebration.

BEIGE: Today, children never outgrow Halloween.

MARTIN: Beige believes that that change started in the 1980s, when adults started taking candy from the kids and then gobbled up the whole holiday for themselves. So the costumes had to grow up, too. And more were inspired by the news.

BEIGE: The political masks that are popping up for Halloween usually is a good indication of who's going to win the election a week later - not in the case of Sarah Palin. Her mask was a terrific mask for Halloween, but obviously we know she didn't win.

MARTIN: Winning looks now are also coming from the Internet. Do you member the dress that riled the web? Was it blue and black or was it white and gold?

CHAD HORSTMAN: When something like that goes viral on the Internet - that one was obvious. Everyone was coming to me saying we have to do that.

MARTIN: That's Chad Horstman of yandy.com, which sells lingerie and risque Halloween outfits.

HORSTMAN: Sexy cops, sexy pirates, nurses, maids, things like that.

MARTIN: And even sexy rodents. Last month, when Horstman saw a viral video of a rat dragging a full slice of pizza into the New York City's subway, he knew we had to do.

HORSTMAN: That one we got extra lucky because our manufacturer in LA was already making a mouse costume, and it was pretty easy just to add pizza pockets to it.

MARTIN: And so you guessed it, Horstman's newest Halloween hit - the sexy pizza rat.

And finally, today, we solve one of the mysteries of the ages. Are you creeped out by black cats?

CHLOE RHODES: Yes. Well my name is Chloe Rhodes, and I'm a writer.

MARTIN: So Chloe Rhodes isn't creepy. She wrote "Black Cats And Evil Eyes: A Book Of Old-Fashioned Superstitions." She studied mythology and folklore from all over the world, and she says black cats actually have a mixed reputation. In Germany, for example...

RHODES: It's bad luck if a cat is walking from right to left.

MARTIN: But left to right? No worries.

RHODES: And there's nothing in writing that tells us why it's that way around, but that's the way around it is.

MARTIN: In Scotland, if a black cat sits by the door of a home, it means prosperity is on the way.

RHODES: In China, though, the exact thing could happen and everyone would be in despair because that would mean hunger and poverty for the family inside the house.

MARTIN: And then there's England, where black cats are always good luck, especially if they walk right towards you.

RHODES: Because it sort of singled you out for good fortune.

MARTIN: Not so in the USA.


ANNA FARIS: (As Cindy) Oh, hey kitty, kitty. Hi, little fella.


RHODES: (Laughter) Yes, they're particularly hated in America. I know, it's a shame.


RHODES: They're not seen as the friendliest of creatures. And there are real historical reasons for that.

MARTIN: Basically, we hate black cats now because people in the Middle Ages hated black cats.

RHODES: You've got to think of yourself in a time when life was nasty, rigid and short, really difficult times to live in.

MARTIN: People were looking for something, anything to help predict bad things. And black cats weren't just associated with witches, they were witches.

RHODES: Actually, a witch that had taken the form of an animal and was prowling around in the body of the cat. So it's hardly surprising, yeah, that some people don't really fancy one as a pet.

MARTIN: But this Halloween, Chloe Rhodes wants us all to give black cats the benefit of the doubt.

RHODES: It's easy to blame the cat. If you walk into work and you see a black cat and then, you know, something good happens, there's good news, then I think, you know, maybe, just maybe, they're on the side of good.


JANET JACKSON: (Singing) Black cat, nine lives, short days, long nights. Living on the edge, not afraid to die. Heartbeat real strong...

MARTIN: Before we let you go, we have one more terrifying sound for you. This one is provided by the New Zealand national rugby team, the All Blacks. Before every match, they perform a traditional Maori war dance called a haka. It's meant to scare the you know what out of the competition, and I guess it works because today they won their second straight World Cup championship. I give you the Haka.


NEW ZEALAND NATIONAL RUGBY TEAM: (Chanting in foreign language).

MARTIN: That's just so cool. I had to hear it. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.