Wet Your Pants

Trying to be the next Thriller

Few people understand the true meaning of Halloween. The end result of a fragile alliance between the American Dental Association and the oft-overlooked pumpkin syndicates, Halloween stands proudly as the one holiday during which you can exploit the dead and dress slutty enough to shame your parents. But even Garfield knows Halloween excitement extends beyond flaming gourds and diabetic seizures. It's also about frolicking with restless spirits on temporarily possessed property.

Yes, it's time again for that venerable Orange County tradition, Knott's Scary Farm. Haunted real estate, be it a house, campground or amusement park, attracts the kind of worker who identifies himself on state tax forms as "part-time carny"—people whose seasonal employment gives them a forum for their three-fingered talents and unsettling flexibility. Finally they can support their families through regular paychecks rather than midday bar bets. To fill those coveted managerial spots, Knott's dips into America's second-largest pool of part-time employees: impressionable honor students looking to scrounge enough dollars for a Kaplan prep course. Outside of public libraries, seasonal jobs are the best place for transients and budding academics to collaborate—a fruitful partnership that has resulted in such noteworthy accomplishments as "freestyle walking" and Carl's Jr. commercials. Every year, these two seemingly disparate groups collide to work toward a common goal: emasculating you in front of your girlfriend by making you scream like a toddler and then fondling her in the ensuing confusion.

Among the programmed entertainment for the evening is a show you won't want to miss: titled Dead Idols . . . Live, it's a performance of rather questionable taste featuring musical-theater geeks impersonating deceased rock & rollers, spraying their undead swagger all over the damn place. As distasteful as it may sound to trot rotting musicians onstage, people do seem to enjoy Fox's Celebrity Duets.

Knott's Scary Farm at Knott's Berry Farm, 8039 Beach Blvd., Buena Park, (714) 220-5000; www.knotts.com. See website for hours. $44-$49. All ages, but not recommended for children under 13.

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