A Spirits & Skeletons wrap-up: 4,000+ guests, 13 Cruella Devilles and nearly 500 pictures

Were you one of the more than 4,000 costumed guests to grace Spirits & Skeletons 2012 on Friday night?

It was one of the best-attended events in museum history, and we were delighted to have everyone out in full, freaky regalia. We’ve compiled a few of our favorite snapshots below:

To peruse the full gallery of nearly 500 photos by Catchlight Group and order prints of your favorites, click here!

Spirits & Skeletons 2012!
ZOMG ROFL it’s LMFAO

Spirits & Skeletons 2012!
More like Beelzehub(ba hubba)

Spirits & Skeletons 2012!
Rosie finds Scooby Doo riveting!

Spirits & Skeletons 2012!
I went to Prom with these people. No joke here, just the facts.

Spirits & Skeletons 2012!
There’s history here, I can feel it.

Spirits & Skeletons 2012!
Ironman meets Leather Lady.

Spirits & Skeletons 2012!
Jellyous?

Spirits & Skeletons 2012!
It’s heart not to have a blast at HMNS.

Spirits & Skeletons 2012!
There! There in the world is Carmen San Diego.

Spirits & Skeletons 2012!
Rocket maaan, on his way to Moriannn alone!

Spirits & Skeletons 2012!
If Keeping Up with the Kardashians is what’s wrong with America, Duck Dynasty is what’s right.

Spirits & Skeletons 2012!
You had me at cat breading.

Spirits & Skeletons 2012!
Fred Flintstone parties in the paleo hall.

Spirits & Skeletons 2012!
Is that a banana on your person, or are you just happy to see us?

Spirits & Skeletons 2012!
Erhmagherd, binders full of women!

Spirits & Skeletons 2012!
Dancing with the dino.

Spirits & Skeletons 2012!
In the thumbnail version, I thought this lovely young lady was a narwhal. Maybe next year?

Spirits & Skeletons 2012!
McKayla Maroney is impressed!

Spirits & Skeletons 2012!
Can pandas be the next villains of Gotham? Imagine the pandamonium.

Spirits & Skeletons 2012!
Who doesn’t love the story of Little Red Riding Hood and the big, bad Chewbacca?

Spirits & Skeletons 2012!
Who are these freaks?

Spirits & Skeletons 2012!
Do I make you … oh never mind.

Spirits & Skeletons 2012!
Molly & The Ringwalds rocked it.

Spirits & Skeletons 2012!
This guy went as a nevernude.

Spirits & Skeletons 2012!
Zombie Christopher Lloyd?

The next time somebody bugs you to cook, cook bugs! We recommend these Chocolate Chirp Cookies

Did you know that insects are eaten in more than three-quarters of the world’s countries? They are a good source of vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates and fats and have a very small environmental footprint when compared to other types of livestock.

Think that’s gross?  You are probably ingesting insect parts everyday — you just don’t know it. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has something that it calls The Food Defect Action Levels, and this document specifies the acceptable amount of bug bits in your groceries. For real. For example, you can totally have “10 or more whole or equivalent insects and 35 fruit fly eggs per eight ounces of golden raisins.” Yum, extra protein!

Having an exoskeleton makes bugs crunchy on the outside but chewy in the middle, like a 100 Grand Bar. You, on the other hand, are chewy on the outside and crunchy in the middle, like a Take-5. The crunch in the exoskeleton comes from chitin, a long polymer chain that makes up the “shells” of many arthropods — including crabs, lobsters and insects. Interestingly, chitin never shows up in animals with an internal skeleton, which recognizes the chitin as a foreign substance and eliminates it. Allergy sufferers take note: If you are allergic to shellfish, you are also probably allergic to insects. Blame the chitin.

A chiton, which is not to be confused with chitin or a chiton (a type of Greek dress), is a type of marine mollusk in the class Polyplacophora. We have several preserved specimens here at the Museum, and they are awesome. This one once went on a trip to Whiskey Bridge with a group of school kids and was referred to by name as “Mr. Ugly.”

Chocolate Chirp CookiesThe third form of chiton (the Greek clothing style) is less likely to be crunchy and more likely to be stylish in everyday use, but appears to have more than one etymological meaning. The Greek “Khitōn” could be used to describe this simple cloth garment or a type of protective armor, which makes total sense when you think about the chitinous exoskeleton of a bug as its protective armor.

Are you totally hooked? Can’t wait to try some chitinous culinary cuisine? You can wait for more blog posts which will feature critters in your own kitchen, you can check out the books below by other famous entomophagists, or you can come visit us on October 26th for Spirits & Skeletons or Oct. 27th for Tricks, Treats & T.Rex — which will both feature a bug chef!

 

From the Test Kitchen of Julia Chitin: Beginner-Appropriate Chocolate Chirp Cookies

Ingredients:
•    Chocolate chip cookie dough of your choice
•    Crickettes (available in the Cockrell Butterfly Center)

Chocolate Chirp CookiesProcedure:
1.    Make sure no one is watching. See Recipe Notes below.
2.    Preheat your oven to the correct temperature as listed on your cookie dough instructions.
3.    Place cookie dough on a baking sheet as you normally would.
4.    Place a single crickette on top of each ball of cookie dough. Don’t be put off if some drumsticks or wings fall off.
5.    Bake as recommended and let cool.
6.    Serve up to your friends and family and enjoy the subtle flavors and audible crunch.

Chocolate Chirp CookiesRecipe Notes:
This recipe is the equivalent of ordering fancy take out and then putting it in your own dishes before the in-laws arrive. Minimal effort for maximum gross out results.

I used to make the cookie dough from scratch using a family recipe, adding in the bugs and mixing well. What I discovered is that the bugs get covered in the dough and aren’t visible. (AND when you are eating cookies with bugs in them, no one actually cares about Nana’s secret recipe.) Save yourself the time — and Nana the heartbreak — and use prepackaged dough.

The crickettes, which generally taste like what they are cooked with or in, will have a slightly nutty flavor and are therefore excellent for replacing nuts in recipes for those with nut allergies.

NOTE: If you have a shellfish allergy, you might also be allergic to insects as well!

Spirits & Skeletons approaches: Dress up without dumbing down with these scientifically inclined costume ideas

We know you know all about Spirits & Skeletons: Molly and the Ringwalds will be rockin’, a caricature artist will be zombifyin’, and a bug chef will be grossin’ you out. But do you know the most important part of all? Namely, what you’re wearing?

We’ve all been atwitter over here planning our ghoulish get-ups, and we figured we should share the wealth of in-house costume ideas with you fine folks.

Here are three scientifically inclined costume ideas sure to strike a nerve with any nerd worth their pocket protector.

The Pacific Garbage Patch

Turn a sad thing funny with this easy last-minute costume. Simply wear blue clothing and glue or pin bits of plastic refuse. Bonus? You can inform anyone who asks about the acres of plastic junk floating in the earth’s oceans.

Winners! Beth Terry & Eli Saddler at Bay to Breakers 2009Antimatter

Spending Halloween as antimatter is the scientific equivalent of dressing up as Daria. What could be more misanthropic?

Remember Lost in Space? I don’t, because I wasn’t yet born, but I hear it contained the perfect get-up in “The Anti-Matter Man”: A full black-and-cream jumpsuit. Recreate the look!

The Anti-Matter ManPinky and the Brain

Can you say “couple’s costume”? Pinky and the Brain make a perfect pair, particularly if one of you is a little portly.

Pinky & BrainHave your own science-themed costume ideas? Share them in the comments or, better yet, show us yourself on Oct. 26!

What: Spirits & Skeletons, the annual HMNS Halloween party
When: Oct. 26, 8 p.m. to midnight
Where: The Houston Museum of Natural Science, 5555 Hermann Park Dr.
How much: $25, $15 for members
This event is 21 and up only.

Spirits & Skeletons & Steve

Trick Or Treat Smell My Feet
(Magic) trick or treat at
Spirits & Skeletons at HMNS!
Creative Commons License photo credit: peasap

Steve Wallach has been performing magic since he was 10 years old. He’s not your average cheesy magician you see at a neighborhood children’s birthday party, either. Steve has made a career out of traveling around the globe and performing illusions for CEO’s, charities, country clubs, and luxury resorts.

I met Steve when I was invited, impromptu, for a meeting about a potential event we were considering for Body Worlds 2. Steve looks like he’s easy-going and from the moment you meet him you can see he’s incredibly observational and is absorbing every detail about you he can take in. As we all sat down to the table, Steve offered to give the four of us a demonstration of his skills. He picked out my co-worker Jason, who was also invited to the meeting impromptu,  and requested that he think of an address from a house he had growing up. Jason recorded the information on a piece of paper while Steve was facing the opposite direction. Steve then asked Jason to think very hard about the address numbers and then proceeded to write something down on his own piece of paper. When both of the papers were lined up next to one another, they read the same numbers on each sheet.

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Magician Steve Wallach
(not pictured) 
will amaze you!
Creative Commons License photo credit: cainmark

As Steve’s show continued, he told me about an accident I had when I was 8 years old and was learning to ride a bike. I had careened into a cement block that busted my knee wide open. Then we opened up a travel book off of a shelf and Steve started spouting off names of the islands that were listed on the page from across the room.

I’m sure I sound crazy right about now, but cross my heart, I saw it all! Working at a Science Museum, sometimes it’s tough to believe that some things don’t have a rational explanation. Or sometimes they do, but Steve Wallach isn’t about to give away his secrets!

See Steve Wallach in all of his glory during Spirits & Skeletons this Friday night from 8pm – 12am and let him boggle your mind. Don’t miss out on the IMAX, Etoile Arabesque Belly Dancers, Fatima and her palm readers, cash bar, or lite bites either. It’s a night full of mystery, illusion, and fun at the best Halloween party in town! Buy your tickets now ($15 non-members, $13 members) this party is sure to be packed!