October 17, 2014 – In the humble words of Linus van Pelt, Halloween is when “The Great Pumpkin rises out of the pumpkin patch that he thinks is the most sincere. He’s gotta pick this one. He’s got to. I don’t see how a pumpkin patch can be more sincere than this one. You can look around and there’s not a sign of hypocrisy. Nothing but sincerity as far as the eye can see.”
I can’t tell you if it is most sincere, but here is what registers as the most popular costumes, songs and treats for Halloween 2014.
Top 10 Most Popular Costumes for both kids and adults
All but #10 has to do with popular movies and television shows, which may not be surprising, but it sure is unimaginative.
10. Nicki Minaj (Really?)
9. Daryl Dixon (from “The Walking Dead”, a highly appropriate choice)
8. Katniss Everdeen (from “The Hunger Games” series)
7. Jon Snow (from “Game of Thrones”)
6. Orange is the New Black (any character, I suppose)
5. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
4. Elsa (from “Frozen”)
2. Star-Lord (from “Guardians of the Galaxy”)
1. Captain America
Top 10 Most Popular Halloween Songs
A handy list to have if you’re throwing a Halloween party.
10. “Dragula” – Rob Zombie
9. “A Nightmare on My Street” – D.J. Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince
8. “Somebody’s Watching Me” – Rockwell
7. “Runnin’ With the Devil” – Van Halen
6. “Don’t Fear the Reaper” – Blue Oyster Cult
5. “Highway to Hell” – AC/DC
4. “Werewolves of London” – Warren Zevon
3. “Ghostbusters” – Ray Parker Jr.
2. “Monster Mash” – Bobby “Boris” Pickett & the Crypt-Kickers (My personal favorite)
1. “Thriller” – Michael Jackson
Top 10 Most Wanted Halloween Treats
I’ll be buying #2 and #3 to give my neighborhood ghouls and goblins.
10. Candy Corn (Yikes!)
9. Tootsie Rolls
8. Gummy Bears
2. Reeses Peanut Butter Cups
1. Kit Kat
Top 10 Least Wanted Halloween Treats
I hated #4 and #1 as a kid.
10. Almond Joys/Mounds (Hey, I love them!)
9. Popcorn Balls
6. Tooth Brushes
4. Any Generic, No Name, Randomly Colored, Wrapped Candies
3. Plastic Spider Rings
2. Loose Candy Corn
Enjoy the Halloween season, and I mean that most sincerely!
If you live in the Philadelphia area – said to be one of the most haunted areas in the country – there are plenty of activities to give you a good fright. Whether you are looking for special effects-type of haunted activities, or yearn to visit places that are haunted by real ghosts, here are some of the best the region offers:
Terror Behind the Walls
A tour through Eastern State Penitentiary is frightening enough, but during the Halloween season when they put on the Terror Behind the Walls showcase, you’ll likely be scared as you’ve never been scared before. Located on Fairmount Avenue in Philadelphia, Eastern State is an abandoned prison that has housed some of the worst criminals in history. There are claims that the penitentiary is actually haunted, and nearly 60 paranormal investigation teams visit the site each year and have found evidence of ghosts behind the walls. So, whether you run into the real deal, or an actor trying to shock you, you’re bound to have a freakishly haunting time. Terror behind the walls is open every day except Mondays through November 2.
The Bates Motel Haunted House
Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” is arguably the scariest movie in his suspenseful collection. It introduced the world to Norman Bates and his beloved mother, who run the Bates Motel. Now you can experience Norman’s crazy world for yourself with a trip to The Bates Motel Haunted House. There are three exhibits on the site, located right outside Philadelphia in Glen Mills, giving you the option of a trilogy of terror. The Haunted Hayride, the Bates Motel, and the Haunted Corn Maze will thrill even the most sophisticated of Halloween enthusiasts. The exhibits are open daily through November 2.
Halloween at Laurel Hill Cemetery
Not only is historical Laurel Hill the hippest and most photographed cemetery in Philadelphia, it’s also home of the Gravediggers Ball, an annual event held each October, and the special attraction, Halloween at Lauren Hill Cemetery. Also known as the Soul Crawl, the program focuses on the rich history of Laurel Hill that dates back to the 1600s. Unlike other Halloween events, the Soul Crawl is scheduled for two evenings only, this Friday and Saturday, October 17 and 18, and will be followed by light refreshments aside blazing fire pits.
Ghost Tour of Philadelphia
The year round Ghost Tours of Philadelphia’s historic regions near Independence Hall are super eerie during the Halloween season. The tour guides take you on a candlelit walk through historic cobblestone streets where you will learn fascinating tales of America’s most haunted city. Walking tours depart from 5th & Chestnut Streets and finish at 2nd & Walnut Streets. Year round, tours depart on Friday and Saturday nights; during the Halloween season, tours depart nightly.
Ghost Tour of New Hope
Follow a lantern lit walking tour through historic New Hope, Pa., situated in Bucks County, right outside of Philadelphia. The streets are quaint and picturesque, and may look calm to the naked eye. Yet these streets are filled with ghosts from the past. You’ll hear tales of the haunted hitchhiker, and see the historic Logan Inn where Aaron Burr and a Revolutionary War soldier have been known to haunt. During September and October, tours meet each Friday and Saturday night, including Halloween.
Halloween at the Mutter Museum
The Mutter Museum, Philadelphia’s own medical oddities showcase, is frightful enough on a normal day, but during Halloween, it goes to extremes. During the season, the museum features the scariest of movies and guest lecturers for a ghoulish good time. Come see cult thriller, “The Doctor and the Devils”, or take in a lecture on Tales from the Dark Side of Organ Transplantation, and discover the curious adventures of a real life crime scene investigator. Only the Mutter can serve up Halloween in such unique way.
That line from the movie “9 to 5”, as uttered by Lily Tomlin to Dolly Parton and Jane Fonda, still makes me laugh when I think about it.
The three women were driving around town with a dead body in the trunk of their car, hoping to dispose of it because they thought it was their boss, and they thought they killed him. A police officer pulls them over because a back tail light is out on the car, and suggests the reason is there’s a short in the trunk. When Tomlin repeats the line to her co-workers, the look on their faces is priceless.
Other than the broad storyline, which focuses on three women trying to make it in the workplace while fighting off sexual harassment, (it was 1980, after all) it is the only part of the movie I can remember clearly.
When I joined the theater group at work, and discovered the first play we’d see at the Walnut Street Theater in Philadelphia would be “9 to 5: The Musical”, I immediately thought of that hilarious scene. I didn’t expect to see that scene in last night’s performance due to stage limitations, but I did expect to laugh. Unfortunately, the performance seemed dated to me, and although I enjoy live theater, I much preferred the movie over the musical. The audience seemed to disagree with me, however, and laughed heartily through one silly production number after another. I can’t blame it on the actors, who all had more than enough talent, but I did find the scene changes distracting, as I focused on moving desks and file cabinets more than the dancing and singing.
I expect I’d feel the same way if I saw the movie again from 34 years ago, as I did about the stage production last night. I’d probably still chuckle at Tomlin’s deadpan delivery of that line, but the rest of the story wouldn’t keep my attention.
While “9 to 5: The Musical” wasn’t the laugh fest I expected, and I wouldn’t recommend it, the rest of the Walnut Street Theater season looks promising. Next up, “Mary Poppins” in December.
October 8, 2014 — If you were up early this morning, perhaps you noticed the blood-red moon in the sky. Through the clouds, you could catch a glimpse of the lunar event, which was a total lunar eclipse, a rare event when it occurs near dawn, turning the moon red. During a lunar eclipse, the sun, earth, and a full moon are aligned in a straight line.
October 6, 2014 – “Gone Girl”, the new thriller from David Fincher, is the first movie I have enjoyed in a long time that is also number one at the box office for its opening weekend. It earned $38 million on Friday and Saturday, according to the box-office tracking firm Rentrak.
The film, based on the novel by Gillian Flynn who also wrote the screenplay, is a psychological mind bender that switches gears as soon as you think you have figured it out, at least for those who haven’t read the novel. It also proves that there are two sides to every story, and no one is as guilty or as innocent as they may seem.
Flynn says she wrote scenes in the book with the director (Fincher) in mind. Fincher, who has films like “Fight Club” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” to his directing credit, along with several episodes of the Netflix original thriller “House of Cards”, know how to mesmerize an audience and keep them at the edge of their seats.
“I was writing in my basement and picturing it through Fincher’s lens,” she says.
Flynn also praises the stellar cast that features Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Kim Dickens, and Sela Ward. Pike, a new comer to me, but one with a few movies on her resume, beat out heavy hitters such Natalie Portman, Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt, Olivia Wilde, and Julianne Hough, for the lead role.
The storyline, one that you think is predictable, centers on a wife’s disappearance (Pike), and an intense media circus that follows, with the prime suspect being the husband (Affleck). It pays tribute in an off-handed way to the world of 24/7 news, and celebrity lawyers such as Nancy Grace who try to convict people on national television, sometimes before they make it to court.
It’s the twists and turns, the clever mind games, and the jaw dropping clues the writer feeds the audience that makes this smart thriller worth the price of a movie ticket. For a movie close to two and a half hours long, the pace seems quick and the time flies by. See it now before someone spoils it for you.