In a word? Yes.

The 1990 mega-hit Ghost starred Demi Moore, Patrick Swayze’s chest, Tony Goldwyn and Whoopi Goldberg. It was so awesome that it’s been reworked and is currently in previews before heading to London’s otherwise theatrically respectable West End as a musical. Of course it is.

I would like points for having the self-restraint not to suggest that “Patrick Swayze’s Nipples” would make a fantastic band name.

You’re welcome.

Ghost is ham-fisted, but it’s not incompetent. Director Jerry Zucker, part of the genius team that created the Airplane movies, knows what he’s doing. That said, I suspect that no one quite knew what to do with this movie. To be fair, it’s not the worst movie ever, it’s just a muddle of too many genres, each given a shallow treatment. It starts out with a spooky title sequence then transitions abruptly to that staple of the late 80s: New York City Real Estate Porn. Goldwyn and Swayze use sledghammers to knock out a huge wall to make the gigantic amazing loft that characters Sam and Molly just moved into super-gigantic. Barechested, natch. Then it’s a lovestory. Then it’s a mystery. Then it’s a wacky slapstick comedy. Then it’s a ghost story. Then it’s Sam running around barechested again. Can someone please give that man a shirt?

Whoopi Goldberg as medium Oda Mae Brown and Vincent Schiavelli as the ghost-mentor who saves Sam’s bacon turn in great performances. It also has Stephen Root in a small role as a cop. Root has been in pretty much everything you’ve ever seen but is probably most famous for playing Milton in Office Space. Root and I were born in the same hospital. I’m running out of things to say about this movie.

Patrick Swayze & his chest (Sam) and Demi Moore (Molly) apparently have no family or friends other than Carl Bruner (Goldwyn). Despite the fact that they work in a huge bank, Sam and Carl seem to only work together. Sam gets killed and the mystery to be solved is: which one of his one colleague is ripping him off? I can overlook the primitive CGI, Demi Moore rocking a serious Moe, and the uneven Acting. But I can’t overlook that the mystery at the core of the movie isn’t mysterious. At all. And that’s just annoying.

I’ve already identified my mistake. This isn’t a morning-coffee sort of movie unless you routinely put kahlua in your coffee. I wanted to start the day with Beetlejuice but netflix streaming wasn’t cooperating so I thought this would be an okay film to jump ahead to.

If memory serves, I saw this movie at The Avalon with EvilAgent not long after we started working together in 1990. The theatre was packed and we couldn’t stop giggling every time one of the bad guys died and the “dark spirits” came for them. Those weren’t supposed to be the funny parts, or so I’ve been told.

And now, just for you: Puppies Parody The Famous Ghost Pottery Scene:

I do a lot of things for you, my loyal readers. Other times, I do things for fun, but I claim I’m doing it for you, just to boost your self-esteem. This is one of those times.

I’ve been watching a lot of Scooby Doo. In the 2nd season, the creators started inserting pop songs into every episode. It’s the nutty lack of relevance to anything happening on screen that makes these songs so hilarious.

In “Jeepers, it’s the Creeper” the gang runs from a big green dude called The Creeper while, for no reason at all, a song about being in love with an ostrich plays.

[youtube video: Scooby Doo, Daydreamin’ (I’m in Love with an Ostrich)]

[link updated 11/13/15]

A whim one evening to watch a few episodes of Scooby Doo turned into a typically ridiculous quest to determine the original chronology of the show and to watch every episode, in order.

I don’t know what’s wrong with me sometimes.

If you don’t find this idea as exciting as I do, go to the store and buy yourself a box of BooBerry or Count Chocula. Eat a bowl or two of cereal and this project will seem like The Best Idea Ever.

Today I’m enjoying the nice weather and finishing a very entertaining book, Mary Roach’s Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife. If Roach’s name is familiar, it might be because she’s back on bestseller lists with her latest, Packing for Mars: the Curious Science of Life in the Void.

The chapter (in Spook) on EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) was one of my favorites, for audio-technology-geekery reasons, and also because I was recently reading up on new archeological research regarding the Donner party. I don’t think you can do a graduate degree in audio technology without being asked 10 million times about EVP. I know I couldn’t.

There’s a nice excerpt from this chapter on Roach’s website, so I’m very happy to be able to share it with you:

From the chapter “Can you Hear Me Now?: Telecommunicating with the Dead”

“The National Forest Service has a fine and terribly dark sense of humor, or possibly they have none at all. For somebody, perhaps an entire committee, saw fit to erect a large wooden sign near the site where fourteen emigrants bound for California were eaten by other emigrants bound for California when they became trapped by the savage snows of 1846 and starved. The sign reads: DONNER CAMP PICNIC GROUND. I got here on a tour bus chartered by Dave Oester and Sharon Gill, founders of the International Ghost Hunters Society. IGHS, one of the world’s largest (14,000 members in 78 countries) amateur paranormal investigation groups, sponsors ghost-hunting trips to famously and not-so-famously haunted sites. By and large, we look like any other tour group: The shorts, the flappy-sleeved tees, the marshmallow sneakers. We have cameras, we have camcorders. Unlike most visitors here today, we also have tape recorders. I am facing a pine tree, several feet from a raised wooden walkway that guides visitors through the site. I hold my tape recorder out in front of me, as though perhaps the tree were about to say something quotable. The other members of my group are scattered pell-mell in the fields and thickets, all holding out tape recorders. It’s like a tornado touched down in the middle of a press conference.

A couple and their dogs approach on the walkway. “Are you taping bird calls?” I answer yes, for two reasons. First, because, well, literally, we are. And because I feel silly saying, “We are wanting to tape the spirit voices of the Donner Party.”

Thousands of Americans and Europeans believe that tape recorders can capture the voices of people whose vocal cords long ago decomposed. They refer to these utterances as EVP: electronic voice phenomena. You can’t hear the voices while you’re recording; they show up mysteriously when the tape is replayed. If you do a web search on the initials EVP, you’ll find dozens of sites with hundreds of audio files of these recordings. Though some sound like clearly articulated words or whispers, many are garbled and echoey and mechanical-sounding. It is hard to imagine them coming from dead souls without significantly altering one’s image of the hereafter. Heaven is supposed to have clouds and bolts of white cloth and other excellent sound-absorbing materials. The heaven of these voices sounds like an airship hanger. They’re very odd.”

Good stuff.

I couldn’t find video of her talking about this book, so here’s her delightful recent appearance on the Daily Show, where she and Jon Stewart gab about pooping in space and other weighty (weightless?) issues.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Mary Roach
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Rally to Restore Sanity

Happy haunting!

Because we’re super-cool, we’re often way ahead the culture curve and see hip new things long before mere mortals do. Other times, not so much.

Thus it was that Husband and I didn’t watch Paranormal Activity until over a year after it was released. It grossed almost $200 million at the box office, so I’m sure some of you got to it before we did.

It’s not that we hadn’t heard of it, it just kept slipping down the priority list. This being ghost movie/book/tv show/comic book/breakfast cereal month, I decided it was high time I bumped it to the top of the Netflix.

The summary: Katie and Micah live in a house. Katie and Micah keep hearing things go bump in the night. Katie knows not to screw around with whatever it is. Micah is a dick and does it anyway, putting video cameras in strategic locations in their home to try to capture evidence of the ghost or demon. What part of “put the ouija board down,” did you not understand, Micah?

I wasn’t sure how to describe the movie without spoilers, but this so-so trailer shows some of the things I was going to point out, so maybe they aren’t exactly spoilers anyway:

It’s a fairly creepy little movie that gives you a few good jumps. Something creepy happens, we see it, the story moves on. The lack of lingering is really what’s so effective to me – the scenes just pile up as these people are being inexorably marched to their doom. Or at least Micah is, we hope, because Micah, as I may have mentioned, is a dick.

The most effective scares: the bedroom door slamming, the footprints in the flour, and that swinging chandelier. I don’t think knowing they’re in the movie makes them less creepy or ruins the fun, either. Two of the creepiest scenes, to me, involve Katie merely getting out of bed in the middle of the night and standing by the bed for prolonged periods of time. She’s not doing anything, she’s just staring at Micah while he sleeps. It’s unnerving. This movie might not be the best use of 86 minutes, but it’s not the worst either.

Here’s the trailer for the sequel. They provided the embed code, so I shall embed. Plus, while I was capturing the code I accidentally let the trailer play a second time and I found that stopping it or moving it forward or back at a few points reveals creepy images you don’t see at regular speed. It was unnerving to find it accidentally. The end of the trailer is actually an amusingly clever use of Flash.

I haven’t read anything about the second one, but babies are inherently creepy, so there you go.

Happy haunting!

Every day is Halloween in our house, but since it’s October 1st I’ll define today as the “official” start of the Halloween season.

Every year I try to stick to an overall theme in my October entertainment blogging. I was very excited about the theme I chose this year: ghosts, hauntings, and other things that go bump in the night.

I was momentarily disappointed when I remembered that I also chose ghosts and haunted houses as my 2009 Halloween theme. Then I double-checked and saw that I was too busy to keep up with the theme last year.

    It’s okay either way, for the following reasons:
    a) this is my blog and I rule it with an iron fist
    b) “a” doesn’t apply to me, only you
    c) the amount of stuff I added to my netflix queue would take a lifetime to watch, so I’m sure I could do this theme every year and never repeat myself
    d) I repeat myself all the time because I’m becoming my mother, so “c” is pretty much irrelevant
    e) I’m forgetful, see also: “d”
    f) I almost never stick to my theme anyway
    g) this justifies all the time I’ve spent watching Scooby Doo over the last few weeks
    h) I think “h” was going to be a punchline relating to “a” and “b” but I’ll be damned if I can remember where this was headed
    i) see also, “e”

So there you have it. And if you have it, you should get it treated right away before it spreads.