Wednesday, October 07, 2009
I don't often think of changing my blog for the holidays, but I've been inspired by my friend and contributor, Stewart Sternberg, to add a little Halloween spirit to the page. Stewart has had a great series of posts on his blog with Halloween motifs, including posts about vampires, creatures that inspire fear, werewolves and the rush we get from being scared, and I realized as I read his posts that so many topics encompassed by fantasy & scifi are tailor made for Halloween. I just reviewed a book about zombies-- as an example. But Halloween has it's own special associations. Granted, it has become a holiday about candy and costumes; but it's also a day that kind of brings out the creepy and the weird. Look at the costumes when the kids come down the street and see how many ghosts, mummies, vampires and witches you see. And then think of how often you see those very characters in your fantasy fiction. Nowadays you can't walk through the bookstore or turn on the television without seeing vampires. But as I was watching television tonight, I was reminded that ghosts are also the subject of an increasing number of reality shows. I may have mentioned before that my husband is a reality-show junkie. I can't say I'm a fan of the genre in particular. In fact, I'd pretty much dump most of them. But there are a few that have their charm-- Stewart himself had mentioned Ghost Hunters at one point. But the show we watched tonight (dare I say, the latest cheese-fest?) was Celebrity Ghost Stories. "Celebrity Ghost Stories" is an interesting conundrum for me. I actually believe in ghosts. I'm one of those people who is open to pretty much anything because I think there is likely all kinds phenomena that we simply don't have explanations for. Ghosts may be wandering spirits or the sightings may be windows into a different time and space. Who knows? We may never know. But like any other unknown, there's always the potential that it's real. But when a celebrity tells the story I'm actually predisposed to skepticism because, well, most celebrities are attention whores. Not all of them... but a lot. And "Celebrity Ghost Stories" is populated with it's fair share of reality show regulars, including Scott Baio, Belinda Carlisle, Debbie Mazar and Carnie Wilson. And yet, it's kind of compelling. I like ghost stories that are corroborated by a second party. Joan Rivers, for example, tells a story that could potentially be confirmed. She claims that her New York City apartment is haunted by the niece of J.P Morgan, who apparently owned the building for many years. She also says that many of the other apartment dwellers have had sightings as well. Is it true? So far, I haven't found any accounts online that back up the story. But you gotta admit, it would be strange for her to tell a story that could so easily be debunked. On the other hand... you know.. publicity whore. But a lot of people I know have ghost stories. My in-laws have a pretty good one in fact. They collect antiques and one time they bought a cradle that was built in the 1800's, and both of them swear that once they brought it into the house they would occasionally hear an infant cry. They also saw ghostly apparitions. My in-laws are not flaky people and they both saw and heard the same things. Spooky. I've never had a close encounter but sometimes I wonder if I'm too prosaic for my own good. My house, for instance, makes a lot of weird noises. Sometimes when I'm home alone I hear a noise that sounds like someone is running across my bedroom upstairs. But I'm convinced it's the acoustics of the house. I'd swear by it. I've never had the someone is looking over my shoulder feeling in my home, so it's easy for me to explain it away by thinking it has something to do with how the breeze blows through my windows. Or maybe I'm just not sensitive to certain vibes... So are ghosts real or are most stories simply a case of the imagination run amok? And more importantly, do you have any good ghost stories?