Not a bad goal. Meet the Green Hornet and his sidekick Kato, re-imagined for Halloween 2012. In case you didn’t look closely, yes, that’s me as the Hornet. And my wife Amelia is Kato. Surprised?
The Green Hornet was originally created as a radio drama in the 1930’s. Of course I remember him from the 1960’s television series starring Van Williams as the Green Hornet and Bruce Lee as Kato. Basically, these two are masked vigilante heroes who pose as criminals but catch the bad guys with the help of their “rolling arsenal” car, the Black Beauty. Nice work.
Unlike the campy 60’s “Batman” TV show from around the same time, the Green Hornet was played seriously. No “Pows!,” “Bams!,” or “Biffs!” anywhere on the screen. And I loved it. He was a superhero who didn’t need tights. The Green Hornet has always been a favorite of mine. So I got an idea.
Our Halloween tradition for the last several years has been to go trick-or-treating with grandkids Brayden and Brookie (and until this year, also little Jared who will now be trick-or-treating in Knoxville, Tennessee…have fun y’all, we miss ya!).
Let me state the obvious. I’m a big kid at heart. In fact, many years ago one counselor suggested I have the “ability” to get stuck at age eight (I now see that as sort of a superpower). So at Halloween, I usually put on some kind of costume. My cowboy stuff one year, my Marine camo uniform another year, always something. But two years ago, I didn’t dress up. Just didn’t think about it for some reason. Grandson Brayden was visibly disappointed. He asked, “Why didn’t Grandad dress up?” Ouch! My heart sank. I told myself, “Never again!”
Halloween has always been fun for me. I remember one year making a robot costume for daughter Valerie. During the judging at a party, we had to back her up against the wall to plug her in (I installed flashing lights). And while in college down at Indiana University in Bloomington, I, along with one of Amelia’s brothers and a friend, started a store we named “Prank Palace.” It was a tiny shop crammed full of masks, costumes, make-up, and practical jokes. Literally lines of people out the door at Halloween.
Though I was part-owner for only a short time, Prank Palace was the most fun I’ve ever had in the name of work. During those days, you may have seen me riding my motorcycle through the streets of Bloomington wearing a gorilla suit with a “Rent Me” sign on my back. Or maybe out on the corner by the shop using masks to stage a mock boxing match between Jimmy Carter and Ayatollah Khomeini. Or marching in a local July 4th parade dressed as Darth Vader.
More recently, I’ve performed as Wild Willy the Singing, Juggling, and Magic-Trick-Doing Cowboy and did an Elvis impersonation for Amelia’s 50th birthday party. So my idea for this year was not a big leap.
I decided to work on a special Green Hornet costume. I started last April gathering pieces. I got the hat and masks from a guy who has worked as a stand-in for Adam West, TV’s Batman. This guy still travels around the country in one of his two 60’s series Batmobiles doing appearances. He had access to exact 60’s TV show screen replicas of the Green Hornet hat, mask, gas gun, and Kato mask. Sold! The coats (I ended up with several) and the tie came from eBay. The pants? Nothing exciting…Lands’ End.
As Amelia will tell you, when I get on a project like this, my “gift” of over-the-toppedness kicks in. Let nothing stand in the way of my screen-accurate Green Hornet costume (and just wait ‘til you see our new surf-themed bathroom! I’m especially excited about what will happen when the toilet lid is raised.).
Speaking of Amelia, let me publicly applaud her tolerance of my silliness. She has her own interesting take on this topic and wearing the Kato mask in particular. Expect to see her as a guest author soon.
For me, the Green Hornet project has kept me entertained in a number of ways over the last few months. Mostly, it has been a lot of creative fun (like wandering around Chicago-area upscale Oakbrook Shopping Center as the Green Hornet and Kato for our photos last Saturday!). I really really love making my kids and grandkids smile and laugh out loud. “Another challenge for the Green Hornet!” Mission accomplished.
Proof I’m stuck at age eight? Hmmm. No. I don’t think I’m stuck at all. It hurts my feelings when that is suggested. I can reel it in when appropriate. But I am determined to have fun and to share it whenever I can.
Proverbs says, “A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.” I have much experience with both conditions…merry is better. And as Tom Robbins, in his book “Still Life with Woodpecker” said, “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.” True again, especially for me. These axioms of hilarity are among my life core values. So, today,
“For unbridled fun and to protect the grandkids from sadness and disappointment…rides the Green Hornet!”