Pick 10 celebrities you think will kick before 11:59 p.m. on 12-31-09. In past years "Celebrity’’ has been defined as ‘someone whose death makes the AP news wire.’ We’re still going with that (but see ‘Usher of the Crypt Rule’ below!). (By ‘someone,’ incidentally, we mean ‘a human being.’ Animals, fictional characters, organizations, can not be used). Then pick one celebrity under the age of 30 for the River Phoenix under Thirty Memorial Category. Hitting the under 30 not only awards you with 'standard' points (see explanation of POINTS below) but also doubles your year-end total and likely makes you the winner.

Death row inmates are not eligible for the list. And by ‘Death Row,’ we mean LITERALLY Death Row. If the Enquirer has done a story about someone’s ‘Tragic Last Days,’ you can still put them on your list.

THE MURRAY GELL-MANN RULE: You can not put yourself on your list, even if you are a celebrity and you feel crappy.

USHER OF THE CRYPT RULE: In order to prevent the sort of debacle we had on the list in 2007, celebrities will cease to be eligible once they celebrate their 103rd birthday. This means no more ‘world’s oldest person’ entries, and no more ‘last surviving World War I veterans’ either.

Killing someone on your list is an automatic disqualification. Having another participant kill someone on your list in exchange for killing someone on their list (like in "Strangers on a Train") disqualifies both of you. And my legal advisors inform me that if you hire somebody to do your killing for you, in the eyes of the law YOU are guilty of murder. I know what you're thinking-- "What is this?? RUSSIA??" --but that's the way it is. Go figure.

Having someone on your list die before you get around to officially entering disqualifies that pick[1]. "I swear I was going to use him’’ does not stand up in court. We have case law to that effect.

There must be proof that the celebrity died during the contest year. (This came up when people wanted to use Chandra Levy in 2002, under the assumption that she was already dead in ‘01 but her body would be found during ‘02. Not allowed because there was no proof that she died in ‘02.)


The points available for each correct hit equal the number of participants. Let’s say 10 people enter this year’s pool. Then let’s say one person picks Tom Cruise and he croaks. That person gets all 10 points. Or if three people pick Katherine Hepburn and she croaks, they split the 10 available points and get 3.33333 each. The idea is to encourage people NOT to make obvious picks like Hepburn. The more obscure, the better chance of raking in the points.

Hitting your River Phoenix entry doubles your total points at the end of the year.

In case of a tie, the winners split the pot evenly.


Send or email your ghoul pool list to Jeff at PO Box 91 Milford NJ 08848 or . Mail but DO NOT EMAIL your $10 also. Lists should be in hand by February 1st, though there is a one-week window-- with the caveat that if someone on your list dies before we get the list, IT DOESN’T COUNT. When all the lists are in, Jeff will post them online somewhere and attempt to keep it updated, in terms of who’s dead. As the folks actually start dropping dead, their names will shift from black to red, through the magic of HTML.




  1. If I pick "The Pope" and this is one of those years where we have multiple Popes and several die, do I get credit for each dead Pope? ANSWER: No. You get credit for the one who was Poping on February 1st, period. We encourage you to be as specific as possible-- so if you say "President Bush," for instance, please specify whether you mean 41 or 43.
  2. If I don’t remember somebody’s name, but I know they played "Tootie" on FACT OF LIFE, can I do that? ANSWER: Do what?
  3. If I put somebody on my list who is already dead (but I didn’t know it), does that count? ANSWER: Well, you don't get the points, if that's what you mean, but it counts in the sense that you don't get to pick another celeb. And it is very unlikely that an already dead person will die again, so we encourage you to check the breathing status of your choices before submitting them. No do-overs.
  4. Can I just say "One of the Little Rascals?" ANSWER: Sure. It’s a free country. You can say it all you want. But it doesn’t count for the ghoul pool. And no, we are not going to run a list of all the currently dead Little Rascals.
  5. Can I enter with someone else as a single entry? Like a husband and wife team, or the Beaver Patrol or something like that? ANSWER: We will accept such entries, but let us know how to make out the check in case youse win.
  6. Instead of just being listed on the web site as "Entrant # 4," can I have a cool nickname, like "Sharkbait" or "Killbot?" ANSWER: We practically insist on it. Go nuts. You can also make pithy little comments about each of your picks if you like. We’re cool with it.
  7. Isn't this really creepy? And won't I go to hell for hoping the people on my list will die? ANSWER: That's actually two questions. No, it's not creepy, it's GOOD CLEAN FUN. And the way to avoid the hell thing (and bad karma in general) is, rather than hope your picks die, you hope everybody ELSE'S picks will live! It's win-win!
  8. Are there any celebrities playing in the Ghoul Pool this year? ANSWER: Yes, hiding under the "nom-de-ghouls" like 'entrant 3' and 'entrant 7' are a number of super models, Nobel Prize winners, and other really cool people. Absolutely.


Feel free to forward this information to likely prospects.


Jeff Grimshaw

Lowercase “j” underscore “grim” underscore “shaw” undrescore “55” at yahoo dot com.


[1] (The Spalding Gray codicil: if someone disappears off the Staten Island Ferry after the 1st of January but before you hand in your list, and you then include this person on your list, and it turns out they actually drowned before you handed in the list, it doesn’t count.)