Something Strange In Your Neighborhood: Ghost CleaningI was riding the train a few Octobers ago when I overheard one middle-aged businessman say to the other, "A ghost followed us home the other day. It was a handyman ghost." His tone was totally matter-of-fact, and his friend responded in kind: "Oh yeah, what did you do?" "We just got some holy water and spread it around," the first guy said. "Cleared it right up." To this day, the exchange leaves me with many, many questions. Did these seemingly rational people really believe in ghosts? And how did they know it was a handyman?An article by Joyce Wadler in today's Times answers some of these questions, along with an age-old one: when the lights are flicking on and off, and your kid's book is levitating above her head, and a celebrated makeup artist is appearing to you in the night, who you gonna call? One "ghost cleaner" is Bonnie Vent, who says that what ghosts respond to is "communication." Unlike my train buddies, she believes remedies like holy water and sage have no effect. She charges $125 an hour to cleanse your house of ghosts, but you can visit her website [warning: Bonnie Vent's voice loudly identifies itself as that of a "spirit advocate," potentially embarrassing you at work] for free. The highlight of the site is this message from George Carlin [go to page 3], in which he informs Bonnie that he is not in hell, that "people are really stupid," and that she is "gathering clients." He makes no connection between the latter two points. The Times article includes a lot of fun stories, including that of toddler Anna, who used to giggle when no one was around. One day Anna's mother heard her arguing with someone, and turned around to find the child's book floating above her head. Anna claimed to be "sharing" with Katie, a little ghost girl who Anna's mother later identified as having hair "like Marcia Brady." Then there's the ghost of makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin, who appeared to interior designer Guy Clark wearing "a blue cabana suit, blue shorts and a shirt, like what people wore in the ’60s." And there's a discussion of an "obese, overweight black shadow figure" that suggests that people's prejudices extend to the spirit world. What's striking about the article as a whole, though, is the extent to which otherwise reasonable people believe in something pretty irrational. Part of this may be that, as Wadler says, "the believers tell a much better story" than the skeptics. Which are you? Have you ever seen a ghost? Have you ever seen the ghost of George Carlin? Supernatural Cleaning Methods [NY Times]