Thursday, November 19, 2015

Season of the Force at Disneyland - Opening Day

We had an awesome day being among the first to check out Disneyland's Season of the Force! Warning: spoilers about the rides and food offerings will follow...

We arrived when the park opened at 9:00 AM and there was a short line to get into the park. Many people were dressed in Star Wars outfits. We even saw a Slave Leia who must have been quite chilly as the morning temperature was only in the 50s. I was glad I had my Ewok winter hat.  

Once inside, we headed straight for Tomorrowland, just like everyone else did, although I was tempted to loiter in Main Street and get pictures with Mickey and Donald who were dressed in holiday sweaters. We grabbed fast passes for Hyperspace Mountain and then checked out the breakfast offerings at the Tomorrowland Terrace (now known as Galactic Grill). Dave tried the Bantha Blue Milk Bread (french toast). He felt the food coloring flow through him. I got the Darth Tamale, which was tasty and a bit spicy. We also got the awesome Chewbacca stein. We saw people waiting in a long line for the TIE Fighter popcorn container, but we passed on that. It's a nice design but awfully unwieldy to carry around during a day at the theme park. I expect lockers were full of TIE Fighters that day.

The line to get into the Star Wars Launch Bay was going to take two hours, so we decided to delay that. We rode Star Tours and enjoyed the new segment based on The Force Awakens, as well as a BB-8 appearance. We checked out the Tomorrowland gift shop. I was glad to see a large selection of Her Universe merchandise. There were other cool new items, including lots of BB-8 items. We went into the theater to see "Path of the Jedi," a highlight reel of all the Star Wars films that culminates with the trailer for the new film. As we moved into the theater, the cast member asked us to fill all the seats and said the theater was seeing more people today than it had in quite a few years (the years of Captain EO, where Michael Jackson's bad acting had been slowly digested by crowds on and off over the course of 29 years). We visited Pizza Port to check out the theme menu items including The Fields of Naboo (salad) and Darth by Chocolate (not salad). We were stoked to find the BB-8 sippers that we'd been told had already sold out, and we also got BB-8 rice krispie treats that were packed with orange and brown M&Ms and iced (in case they weren't already sugary enough).  How many times can I mention BB-8 in this paragraph? Well, that is how hard BB-8 is being marketed.

Now it was time for our fast pass return for Hyperspace Mountain, so we eagerly made our way through the line, appreciating some new Star Wars theming along the queue. We got the front seat and the refreshed ride is truly exhilarating, with great visuals, sound effects and dialogue from the films. It actually felt like the ride was faster, but I think this was just an illusion from the stars and ships racing by us. Everyone applauded as the ride ended. It was about noon when we rode it and they had run out of fast passes for the rest of the day. The ride would have a 60-90 minute wait the rest of the day, even though it was a chilly Monday in November. We felt a little nauseous after riding it, so just riding it once that day was good enough for us.  

By this point, the wait for the Launch Bay was only fifteen minutes, so we checked it out. There's a behind the scenes film and a collection of props and costumes. It seems that none of the model ships on display were actually used in the films, but they are still fun to look at and to appreciate for the fine detail. This is also the area where you can have your photo taken with Chewbacca and Darth Vader (not at the same time). There's a video game room with X-box consoles so you can play the Disney Infinity Star Wars game and tablets for playing Star Wars Angry Birds. The store in the Launch Bay has some very high end items including a $4000 Darth Vader costume and a $3000 six-foot tall Boba Fett that looks like the original action figure (for $3000, shouldn't that rocket pack actually work!?!). You can find the Gentle Giant and Sideshow Collectibles figures in this store, along with some autographed cast photos and artwork.  It's kind of a mini Comic Con shopping experience.

We then moved on from Tomorrowland and met some friends for lunch at the Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue. It was quite crowded as the restaurant will be closing on January 10 to make way for the Star Wars Land that Disney will be building. I will be sorry to see this restaurant go. The ribs just fall off the bone and the service is excellent.  

It's not only the Season of the Force...but also the holiday season...and a lot of the holiday decor is already in place. The big tree is up on Main Street. There's a giant gingerbread house in the Grand Californian, but the tree isn't up in the lobby yet.  I watched the Holiday parade in Disneyland, and tried two of the holiday drinks at Trader Sam's.  The Red Nosed Zebra was a tasty rum punch but the Jungle Bells had too much anise.  Between the anise and the pine branch garnish, it was kind of like drinking Vicks VapoRub.  

We're not sure how long the Season of the Force will be with us (always?) go check it out when you can! 

Check out all my photos from the Season of the Force opening day. 

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

AFI Fest, Part II: Reviews of Chronic, The Lobster, and Sworn Virgin

Here's some brief reviews of AFI Fest screenings I attended.  

Tuesday, November 10 - Chronic

Chronic follows a nurse named David (Tim Roth) who takes care of seriously ill patients in their homes. Roth is very believable as a nurse who brings compassion to the job without being cloying. Yet, David gets overly attached to his patients, even to the point of taking over their lives or imagining different relationships with them. It's uncomfortable and painfully familiar to see how the families have a hard time being natural around their sick loved ones, and their awkwardness forms a sharp contrast to David's easy-going demeanor. David is a broken man also trying to build a relationship with his estranged med student daughter. The film won best screenplay at Cannes, and it's quite intricate in the way the vignettes of different patients build to reveal more of David's character. There's no music in the film. It feels very immediate, intense and intimate. After the screening director Michel Franco and Tim Roth did a Q&A. Roth pointed out some nurses in the crowd who had helped him prepare for the role and coached him on the set. An elderly lady in the crowd stood up to say the film was good but she felt it was missing something, and she just couldn't really put her finger on it. The director took this criticism in stride and said perhaps he would show her his script before he filmed his next project. Chronic is a difficult film to watch, but it's worth the pain.

Tuesday, November 10 - The Lobster

I only got tickets for The Lobster because I thought my boyfriend would like it. The description in the AFI program of the film's dystopian future made me picture Logan's Run or THX-1138, and I am not much into sci fi in general. It turned out to be my favorite film of the festival.  Colin Farrell plays David, a man whose wife leaves him at the opening of the film. In this society, everyone must be coupled. David and his dog are sent to a hotel where he is given 45 days to find a new partner - or else he will be turned into an animal and released into the woods.  But it's not all bad, because he can choose the animal he will become! John C. Reilly plays a man he befriends in the hotel. The film is twisted but very funny and has a lot to say about courtship, how we tend to settle and the compromises we make to be in a relationship. This future world looks pretty much just like today's world, despite the insane rules of the society. Yorgos Lanthimos directed the film, and its quirkiness makes it totally fresh. Farrell gained weight for the role and uses his pudgy midsection to convey a lot about his character's passive, blah nature. The Egyptian Theater was completely full for this screening, and the producers did a quick introduction, but there was no Q&A.  

Wednesday, November 11 - Sworn Virgin

Film festivals are a good opportunity to see films about somewhat obscure topics that probably will never get a wide US release. In Sworn Virgin, Italian filmmaker Laura Bispuri tells the story of Hana (aka Mark), an Albanian sworn virgin, who leaves a remote Albanian village to travel to Milan and experience city life. There she reconnects with a childhood friend and wrestles with questions of identity and sexuality and decides whether or not to keep her vow. Sworn virgins really exist in these remote Albanian villages, where women do not have any rights and are basically property of the men. Some women choose to live as a man in order to hunt, escape being a wife and mother, have jobs outside the home or have more status in society. This is allowed, but they must swear to the elders that they will remain virgins. The cinematography of Albania is breathtaking and the performance of Alba Rohrwacher as Hana/Mark anchors the film with believability. After the film, Bispuri did Q&A and she revealed the film took quite a few years to develop and she had to make multiple trips to the Albanian mountains to win the trust of locals who appear in the film.  I hope this sensitive, thought-provoking film will find an audience. 

Read AFI Fest Part I - Field Niggas, Baskin, and The Lady in the Van

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Saturday, November 14, 2015

AFI Fest, Part I: Reviews of Field N*ggas, Baskin, and the Lady in the Van

AFI Fest doesn't just offer a great selection of films - all the tickets are free! That doesn't mean getting them is easy. I spent about two hours online when they were made available, dealing with website glitches, things disappearing from my shopping cart, etc. Many films seemed to be immediately sold out.  The "voucher" system for galas led to people having to camp out to get a chance for the big films. But for the smaller films or the daytime screenings, I found it was no problem to get in, although showing up 45 minutes early was sometimes necessary to get a good seat. If you didn't get tickets online, you could also show up early and wait in a rush line and probably get into most screenings. This will be the first of two posts offering short reviews of the six films I saw.

Friday, November 6 - Field Niggas

The theater was full for Field Niggas. We saw a videotaped introduction by the director, Khalik Allah, as he was not able to attend in person. The film presents late-night life on the busy Harlem corner of 125th and Lexington. The audio and filmed footage don't sync up, so you will hear a person talking but it isn't always the person you see on screen, or at least you can't be sure. Many of the people are high on K2, and although I have not tried it, I felt like I too was high on K2 while watching the film due to its woozy, dreamlike cinematography and the asynchronous audio. The film is only 60 minutes long, but since there is no narrative, it tends to drag. I found myself wanting to know more about the people that we only saw in brief snippets. It was a bit like Slacker in that way - we just see glimpses of people.  I left the film feeling a little nauseous. I feel it is artistic, and the cinematography is beautiful and colorful, but it lacked character development that could have made it a truly moving documentary.

Monday, November 9 - Baskin

The trailer made me very excited for Baskin, but the film didn't deliver. It's a Turkish horror film that tells the story of five cops who respond to a distress call from another cop and end up at a creepy dilapidated building in the woods, where of course a cult is performing violent rituals and in need of humans to sacrifice.  None of the cops are particularly likable, so we don't care too much about their fate. The middle sequence of the film, where the cops arrive and start exploring the building in the dark, is very suspenseful but the final act doesn't really go anywhere. It does provide some gross-out moments, and the high priest (Mehmet Cerrahoglu, a parking attendant making his acting debut) is quite mesmerizing. Argento was cited as an influence, and the film does have a supernatural bent. It mixes the supernatural with low-grade torture porn in the Eli Roth vein, but never quite has the squirm factor that Roth's films do. The director Can Evrenol revealed during the Q&A that the script was written very hastily, after Roth saw his short film and asked if there was a feature-length script. The director fibbed and said he had a script and then had to write it quickly.  Hopefully, he will spend more time developing his next script.  The title also makes no sense. When asked about it, Evrenol admitted only that it was kind of an in joke and that he had some regrets, since it gets lost in search results on twitter for Baskin Robbins. The theater was only about 1/3 full, but it was a 1:00 PM weekday screening.

Monday, November 9 - The Lady in the Van

It's always a treat to watch Maggie Smith, and this role is totally in her wheelhouse. Based on a true story, The Lady in the Van tells the story of a homeless lady in the van who creates a stir on a nice upper middle class block of Camden Town by daring to park her van there. The playwright Alan Bennett is the neighbor who treats her with the most compassion. When overnight street parking becomes restricted, he agrees to let her park the van in his driveway. As the years go by, they trade quips and Bennett learns more about her true identity and what brought her to this lowly state.  Smith is really just a smelly version of her Downton Abbey character, so it doesn't require her to stretch much. Still, it's a pleasure to watch, even if it's not groundbreaking cinema. It's kind of a like a story you might have read in "The Most Unforgettable Character I Ever Met" section of Reader's Digest and enjoyed but quickly forgot. There was no Q&A at this screening, and it was a full house.

Stay tuned for Part II - Reviews of Chronic, The Lobster, and Sworn Virgin.

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Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Courtney Love and the Kansas City Choir Boy Take Culver City

As a long-time Courtney Love fan, I couldn't pass up the unprecedented opportunity to see her on stage a mere two miles from my condo. She is currently co-starring in Kansas City Choir Boy at the Kirk Douglas Theater, running until November 8.  

This was my first time to this theater and it was arranged for this show with seats on three sides of the action. The staging area for the musical was quite small, and it felt very intimate.  This is not the kind of show I normally like, as it has very little narrative, but I found myself really enjoying it.

Todd Almond wrote and stars in the musical, as the unnamed Kansas City Choir Boy, who recounts his relationship with Athena (Courtney Love) in flashbacks after seeing a TV news report that she was murdered in a park. Girl meets boy in Kansas City, girl dreams of being an actress, boy writes music, girl leaves to pursue dreams in New York, girl meets a tragic end, boy struggles to go on and seeks her inspiration from beyond the grave.  That's about as much of the storyline as I could gather. It's never really explained why he doesn't want to go to New York with her, since he has artistic aspirations, too.

Besides the two principals, there's a group of women known as the sirens who form a Greek chorus. The choreography for the sirens kept things interesting, as did the creative lighting.  At times the sound mix was a bit muddled, so it was hard to make out what the actors were singing. A string quartet plays at some points and provides refreshing interludes. The songs were appealing, but I couldn't hum any of them a day after seeing it.

Courtney is mesmerizing with her alabaster skin and commanding presence, however she doesn't have much to do and her character isn't really developed. She basically functions as a muse.  At one point, she appears in a black dress that is just spectacular. It's hard to keep your eyes off her. I have been glad to see her in Empire and I hope she continues to focus more on acting. Her singing voice is not for everyone but since the material here is rock-oriented, it works. It would be even better if the script was developed further. It's more of a sketch than a fleshed-out story. 

There's palpable chemistry between Almond and Love, and anyone who has loved and lost will find something relatable in the show.  Almond based it on his own experience growing up in the midwest and watching TV news and seeing the face of an actress he had been working with who had been murdered in a park.  

After the show, there was a talkback, and most of the audience admitted they had no idea what they had witnessed or what the story was about.  One woman mentioned she had not been familiar with the music of Cyndi Lauper before seeing the show - clearly, she had her singers with the initials CL confused! Most enjoyed the show for its creativity in lighting, staging, and music. The musical is only an hour, so I think it can get away with its vagueness without wearing out its welcome.  

Although I bought tickets through Goldstar Events, we ended up in the front row, and I felt a bit starstruck to be so close to Courtney. A girl next to me could hardly sit in her seat due to her excitement at almost being able to touch the rock icon. I realized the last time I was this close to Courtney was way back in 1994, when I saw Hole on their Live Through This tour at a small club in St Louis. 21 years later, she is still mesmerizing, raw, and a very real presence in an ethereal musical.  

Kansas City Choir Boy official website

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Clifton's Cafeteria - Reborn!

I've been waiting impatiently for Clifton's Brookdale Cafeteria to reopen.  I loved the old cafeteria - it was such a unique slice of classic Los Angeles. It brought me back to childhood memories of eating in cafeterias in St Louis with my grandmother. And its kitschy woodlands theme made me think of Disneyland - especially when we ate there on Charles Phoenix's Downtown LA as Disneyland tour. No, the food wasn't anything special, but the desserts were good - and where else in LA could you get jello? It was fun to explore the multiple levels and look at the historical photos of that location and the other locations that had different themes.  

Andrew Meieran bought Clifton's in 2010, and he closed it for renovations in 2011. I was sad, yet excited to hear it was in the hands of the owners of the Edison. Then the waiting began. In 2011, I went to a Twin Peaks art show at Clifton's and in 2012,  I went to a Chinatown screening in Clifton's. These were soft openings but who knew that the real opening would still be 2 years away?? I was an event planner. I really wanted to host the company holiday party there, and I inquired every year. Of course, the year I leave my job, is the year that it finally reopens. Now that I've visited, I have to say I'm very impressed and it was worth the wait - however, it's not quite ready to host a company holiday party.  

I waited until Clifton's had been open for a month before I visited last night. We went on a Tuesday night @ 8pm.  I was pleased to see the first floor still maintains most of the original look, and the design throughout the place pays homage to the original Brookdale woodlands theme.  However, the new Clifton's has more of a Yosemite lodge meets Natural History Museum aesthetic than a Disneyland Country Bear Jamboree. It's kitschy yet taking itself a bit too seriously, like a hipster declaring, "I like Clifton's - and not just for ironic reasons!"

The first floor houses the cafeteria. There's a pastry/bakery counter right when you walk in, and some retro candies that you can pick up as you wait on line to get your tray. It was not crowded when we went, so we breezed right up to the trays and an attendant explained the cafeteria layout. There are food stations, rather than a continuous cafeteria line, and you can skip around and get what you like. We opted for fried chicken dinners. I was enchanted by the jello parfait and my boyfriend Dave got a chocolate mint cake.  We both got sodas from the Coca Cola Freestyle machine - a nice modern touch. Our meals totaled $37, which is certainly quite a bit higher than old Clifton's prices. I have to say the food was not up to that price point and, in fact, was worse than Hometown Buffet. The chicken was kind of dry although the breading was good. Stuffing and mashed potatoes were cold. The piece of bread was so stale I could have chipped a tooth on it.  The highlight was the jello (hard to mess that up) and the giant slab of mint chocolate cake, which was moist and delicious.  I was not expecting the food to be great, but was really disappointed that it was barely edible.  Clifton's definitely needs to step up its game here. After all, it was known as a cafeteria and it opens at 11am - people are going to come for food - not just fancy cocktails.  

We took our food upstairs to the second floor, and there were many tables that were littered with discarded trays and food. We found a clean table toward the back. Soon after we sat, someone came and cleared all the trays, but it seemed like things weren't running totally smoothly.  I imagine it's hard to figure out staffing for such a large venue, considering much of the space wasn't being used on a weeknight. Also on the second floor is the base of a giant tree that anchors an atrium that lets you look up to the third and fourth floors. This open design is really striking and cool.  The bar on the second floor has a creative drink list and three different souvenir mugs ($28 each, including the cocktail). I got the owl mug and it's really cool.  There are glass cases with a stuffed buffalo and a deer on this floor, and more dead animals on the third floor. I'm not real fond of this, but I think it works with the theme.  The presentation looks just like the Natural History Museum dioramas.  There's some comfy seating as well as tables.  There's a slide show behind the bar that shows vintage Clifton's photos. They also kept the tiny little chapel-type room. There are interesting things in all the nooks and crannies, and the place is worth exploring.

On the third floor, they have kept some original murals and there's a small stage. One side of the floor is just a seating area without much adornment. The other side of the floor houses the Gothic Bar which has a very striking altar to alcohol and a list of drinks with names liked Electric Sheep, Forrest J and the Two Rays. My boyfriend asked the waitress if the Two Rays were Bradbury and Harryhausen and she didn't know. She admitted the drink names had changed several times since the bar opened, so she knows the drinks but not the meanings of the names.  There's a meteorite on the bar. Bartenders were very friendly.  I had the Forrest J, a scotch cocktail that was really good. Dave had the Electric Sheep, a vodka drink featuring "vintage apple." 40s music played throughout the bars to set the mood.

We could see a bar on the fourth floor and were told that floor would be a tiki bar opening in a few weeks, and there will be a fourth bar in the basement that will have a speakeasy vibe.  

Clifton's is immense. It could well become a very successful multi-level nightlife space. I would certainly go back for dessert and drinks anytime, but I don't think I'll eat a meal there again until they address some of the problems with the food. I think in all the ambition around the design of the place, the basic ingredient - cafeteria food - got overlooked.  But if the place is going to be open at 11am everyday, then there's a significant lunch crowd that won't be coming back if the food isn't decent. I can appreciate that with a space so huge and plans so ambitious, it will take a little while to get all the kinks ironed out. I've been waiting for years and will gladly give them a little more time.  It's nice to see a piece of classic Los Angeles revered, revived and reinvented. And they kept the jello! 

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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Concert Review: Duran Duran - Jimmy Kimmel Live

I love the opportunities that living in LA affords me - like seeing Duran Duran up close and personal! This was my second time going to a Jimmy Kimmel Live concert. The concerts take place on an outdoor stage behind the theater where the Kimmel show tapes.  The first time I went, I saw Spandau Ballet. It was an excellent show but had a much smaller crowd than today’s show and a shorter set.  

There were two ways to get tickets for the show. You could apply for free tickets through or you could make a $15 donation to cancer research through the Mastercard Priceless program and be guaranteed a spot. I figured the Mastercard ticket holders would be let in first, and I dislike cancer, so I donated the $15.  

We arrived at 4:00pm to get in line. There were about 40 people in line ahead of us.  We had to wait in the sun for about 90 minutes while listening to the band do their soundcheck behind the fence.  They let us in at 5:30pm and we got a spot in the 2nd row from the stage! We then watched the Kimmel show broadcast on a video screen as it was taping. At the end of the show, Jimmy Kimmel came out on stage to introduce Duran Duran. The band’s segment was being taped to air on a future show.  

The band kicked off the set with “Pressure Off”, the first single from the new album “Paper Gods.”  They looked and sounded great.  I’ve been a Duranie for 33 years, and I’ve seen them in concert probably 7 or 8 times but I’ve never been able to see them perform at such close range. Simon came right up to the barrier and sang to us several times. I could have easily collapsed like one of those preteen fans in the “Sing Blue Silver” documentary.  And why did I forget my fedora?  

They played two other songs from “Paper Gods”:  “Last Night in the City” and “You Kill Me With Silence.” Album producer Mr. Hudson joined the band on stage and played guitar for “You Kill Me With Silence.  We got to hear all the new songs twice and Simon made several false starts on “You Kill Me With Silence.” He apologized and said it was such a good song that he wanted to make sure he performed it perfectly. None of us in the crowd minded hearing the songs over again. We are now well-prepared to sing along at the Hollywood Bowl show later this week!

Simon asked us how long we had been waiting and if any of us were hungry before launching into “Hungry Like a Wolf.”  They played this one a second time too, to get it perfect for TV.  The crowd went wild when they played “Save a Prayer” and we all sang along, especially on the greatest pickup line of all time: “Some people call it a one night stand, but we can call it paradise.”  They also performed “Reach up for the Sunrise”, which isn’t my favorite, but I reached up anyway.  

The whole show lasted just over an hour, which is pretty awesome considering some of these Kimmel freebie concerts are only 3 or 4 songs.  The band seemed to be in great spirits. I think the new songs are really catchy and I’m glad to see the Duran boys back on top again!

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Saturday, March 14, 2015

Top 10 Reasons Why I Don’t Care If Ghost Hunters Comes Back

If you’re a follower of Ghost Hunters, you’ve noticed they’ve been missing from the increasingly-crowded televised ghost-show lineup for a few reality-show seasons now. It seems like the longest hiatus the show has ever had. In fact, there didn’t seem a time when Ghost Hunters wasn’t on the air unless one of their spinoffs or associate shows were bookmarking their spot for the summer.

I was a very early adopter of GH in 2004 and watched all the episodes for the first few years. They were refreshingly professional seeming (aside from the comic relief of Brian Harnois). I bought their books and oogled their ghost hunting gadgets sold for a time on the Sci Fi channel website. I even watched and wrote about how Ghost Hunters International fell short of the original show. I was there during Brian Hornois’ dramatic departures, kerfuffles with Andy Andrews,  Steve Gonsalves’s fear of all sorts of shit, Dave Tango'a rise to prominence, (he’s my personal favorite for his level-headedness but I was also there when the cast exposed his naivete with pranks early on), Amy Bruni’s baby, Kris Williams’ quiet awesomeness that took a season or two to warm up to, Britt Griffith,  Adam Berry, K.J. McCormick, Donna LaCroix, Dustin Pari, (and his injudicious use of backwards hats), Joe Chin, Barry Fitzgerald in the UK episodes and many others who came and went over the years.

Somewhere around 2007 or 2008 I started falling asleep through episodes. Part of this was just being dog tired at the time. But part of it was because the shows were becoming repetitive. However, by that time my husband was hooked. He didn’t miss an episode come hell or high water, even catching one episode on Hulu in 2010 on a laptop the week we moved to New Mexico and didn’t have our TV. 

Then we dropped cable for a time in 2013 and GH wasn’t available anymore on Hulu. What was up with that? First GH was on Hulu; then it wasn’t. Looking back, I wonder if GH wasn’t starting to slip under the weight of its behind-the-scenes goings on. 

Now, the show is forever lingering as a promise on Sci Fi’swebsite. The lineup seems fractured and release dates for the reboot have come and gone. No one seems to want to pull the plug.

I, for one, can live without more Ghost Hunters episodes. And here is why:

1.       Redundancy.
It’s hard to tell the shows apart anymore. When we look back and reminisce, they all run together. Has the show been on too long?

2.       Disturbing Departures. 
When Grant, one of the show’s founders, left in 2014 the shocking and mostly unexplained departure betrayed probable hidden conflicts within the cast.

3.       Subset of Disturbing Departures: All the Cool Girls Leave.
There have been great guys on the show, but the girls have been exceptional. They never squealed and shivered at spooks. They were confident, brave and smart. So why are they gone?

4.       Subset 2 of Disturbing Departures, Many Iterations of Jay’s Kids and Dogs.
Jay has attempted to replace the girl-gap with a rotation of his daughters (and one dog).  For some reason although these daughters seem confident and smart, it just feels like we’re getting more Jayness and not more girliness.

5.      Subset 3 of Disturbing Departures, the Very First Departure, Brian Hornois.
Actually, I don’t know who left first, Brian or Donna. They both left in 2007. But Donna left without much fanfare. Brian’s departure was a plot point on the show. He was clearly a point of pain and it’s easy to see why his erratic and undependable behavior necessitated his release from the series. However, to his credit, Brain did inject some life into the show every time he failed to correctly coil up an extension cord. He seemed to serve as some kind of personality catalyst for the rest of the cast. Without him, the show deflated a bit. Which brings us to…

6.       The Personality Problem.
The current menagerie of ghost story, ghost hunting, and ghost psychic shows are full to the brim with personality. New shows have goofy, hyper lead investigators (Zak Bagans), quirky angles (a cop and a physic who prescribes chaos magicians) , psychics aiding celebrities, hillbilly ghost hunters. I’m not saying the gimmick is alright. I’m just saying GH has lost what few charismatic players they had. Jay and Grant were a duo with personality. Jay and Steve Gonsalves are not. Jay alone is not. In comparison to other shows, the cast now seems bland. Professional is good. Bland is not.

7.       Spin Off Failures.
Ghost Hunters International and Ghost Hunters Academy didn’t last although the academy did give us Adam Berry who was an interesting addition at first. Remember the inn in New England that Jay and Grant purchased? Can this be turned into a spin off?

8.       The Credibility Issue.
Some ghost shows rely on personality. Some shows rely on trumped-up scares. It’s a hard line to walk. Ghost Hunters once had a bit of comedy and personality (with some on-the-air dramas). It seemed at some point in the last five years GH was going for more scares and less science. Then they seem to pull back. The show has always seemed to struggle with what kind of show does it want to be. In any case, both science and show credibility have suffered.

9.       Paltry Evidence of Research.
That inn in New England reminds me of a question that has been bugging me for years: why doesn’t anyone invest in a clearly haunted house and study that on TV for a few years? Why aren’t any eccentric Richie Rich’s investing in ghost research? They’re investing in alien research. Why not ghosts? After ten years and multiple ghost shows, have we any decent proof to show for ourselves? Something we can take on a TED talk? In fairness, it’s not really possible to judge televised research. The very format is deceptive. But we all pretend here, right? “It’s a TV show” is my husband’s favorite mantra. TV prevents me from ultimately taking anything seriously. So I’m pretending disappointment here with the repetitive evidence we’ve managed to accumulate over the last decade. Because it’s a TV show, this particular viewer is getting bored with “compelling EVPs.”

10.   Jay.
At the end of day, we’re left with Jay. God love him for hanging in there, but he’s too stern to lead, he’s not causal enough to narrate, and he needs a charismatic co-host to counter-balance his solid-guy Jayness. He once had a role to play: be the hard guy. He’s like your friend’s dad who is too serious and hard-ass so you never go over and play at their house. He wasn’t flexible enough to morph into a welcoming, friendly host. I’m led to believe Jay might have a serious life, so he’s a serious guy. But real life characters and TV characters are too different things. Jay needs Grant’s lightness to offset his Jayness.

So it probably goes without saying we all miss Grant. But I miss Brian too and his honest dishonesties, his “Run, Dude, Runs!” I miss Donna and Kris. I even miss announcer Mike Rowe. I miss the days when the show seemed somewhat more of a team and less of a Jay-logarchy. Jay has his strengths, (he’s organized, passionate, and definitely an influencer), but carrying the show on his back ain’t one of em. The problem with this show is that I miss too much. I miss more than they can likely replace.

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