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Ghoulish good times 

A Halloween party planner.

click to enlarge GENUINELY SCARY: Rwake offers a dark soundtrack for Halloween.
  • GENUINELY SCARY: Rwake offers a dark soundtrack for Halloween.

Yes, those automated giant plastic skeletons that you find in way too many stores that say "WAH HA HA!" when you breeze by them are terrifically annoying. And it's almost guaranteed that a significant portion of the trick-or-treaters who come to your door will have facial hair and no costume. But really what else isn't awesome about Halloween? There are always dozens of horror movie marathons (this year, AMC's FearFest, which runs late night and during the day through Halloween, might be the best; it culminates with the much, much-anticipated new zombie drama "The Walking Dead" next Sunday night). Halloween music is considerably better than all other holiday-themed fare (if you're looking for a secret weapon for your mix, check out "This is Crucial Reggae Halloween"). It's a culturally accepted time to gorge yourself on candy. And there are so many parties with grown folks especially in mind. Here's a survey:

*Brews and boos. Boo at the Zoo, the Little Rock Zoo's ever-more elaborate annual Halloween party, kicks off with the adults-only Brew at the Zoo with beer from around the world to sample. The regular festivities, which run Thursday through Sunday this weekend and next, include a new and improved haunted reptile house, a more elaborate haunted house, a new hay maze and a new and improved haunted train. Plus, there are nightly magic shows, inflatables for jumping around in and every night at 7:30 p.m. Frankenstein will marry his bride and a dance party will follow. 6-9 p.m., Oct. 21-24, 28-31, $6-$7 plus a la carte prices for individual activities.

*Walk like a zombie, field-test your costume. The Mud Run, billed as "Little Rock's dirtiest 5K," has long been the place to debut your elaborate Halloween costume — as long as it's washable. The "5Kish" course snakes through obstacles in Two Rivers Park and culminates in a 300-foot mud pit. In addition to prizes for fastest finishers, the Run doles out awards for cleanest, dirtiest, best costume (adult and child) and more. This year, there's also an effort afoot to break the world record for people dressed as zombies dancing to "Thriller." It's probably not going to happen, but no harm in zombie-ing up. More info at mudrun.org. 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 23, $25-$35.

*Bark at the moon. If you must subject your dog to a Justin Bieber costume, at least take him to Howl-O-Ween at the Burns Park Dog Park, where the cost of psychic readings for dogs, a photo booth for dogs and participating in dog costume contests will all benefit Out of the Woods Animal Rescue of Arkansas. The Times' Alan Leveritt will be a costume judge. 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 23.

*Hunt ghosts. Taborian Hall, the Ninth Street building Arkansas Flag and Banner currently calls home, is soon to celebrate its 100-year birthday. The third floor, Dreamland Ballroom, once was the nexus of African-American nightlife in Little Rock — all the blues and jazz greats played there over the years. The following two Saturdays, Friends of Dreamland, the group working to restore the building, partners with the Arkansas Paranormal Research Association for two nights of ghost hunting throughout the building. After the investigation, hunters will sup on hors d'oeuvres and beverages. The night's open only to those 18 and older. 8 p.m. Oct. 23, Oct. 30, $50.

*Do the zombie dance. As usual the ACAC presents its Great Halloween Cover-up, with local acts impersonating national ones. This year's line-up includes Mandy McBryde as Loretta Lynn, Mad Trucker and Jen Shaw as Portishead, Real Live Tigers as Bruce Springsteen, (clap!)Kidzpop as Belle & Sebastian, Osyrus as Common and The Flaming Death Faeries as KISS. Meanwhile, White Water Tavern hosts the same sort of event, with The Moving Front performing as The Jam, a group that includes Sydney Hunsicker, Will Boyd, Lorenza Harrington, Zach Reeves, John Willis, Henson Flye, Mark Lierly, Lydia Washburn and Jack Lloyd doing Neutral Milk Hotel and Phillip Huddleston, Michael Inscoe, Thom Asewic and Patrick Rippy playing songs from Weezer's Pinkerton. Finally, for a night of actual scary music, black metal heroes Jucifer share a bill with North Little Rock masters of sludge Rwake at Downtown Music. Great Halloween Cover-up: 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 30, Vino's, $7-$10. White Water Tavern: 9 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 30, $5. Downtown Music: 8 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 31, $10.

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