236 – The Sound Of The Supernatural: Music And Metaphysics With Praga Khan From Lords of Acid

Music is universal across human culture. Doesn’t matter what language you speak or where you from, singing and dancing is an essential part of the human experience, just ask Kevin Bacon…

If anyone ever asks you about cocaine consumption in the 1980s, just point them here…

There was a video that made the rounds a few years ago that showed normally unresponsive Alzheimer’s Patients reacting to the music of their youth. And it underlines the point that songs can activate a part of our brain that conscious interaction cannot get to. Frank Zappa famously called “writing about music” like “dancing about architecture”, because you’re trying to describe something through reading and writing that can only be experienced through listening. We’ve talked about binaural beats before (and even created a Star Trek-inspired binaural beats song!), which are two frequencies played in each ear that are a different pitch by a certain number of Hertz, your mind processes that difference and according to an automatic process in our brains called “Frequency Following Response” will start producing brainwaves at that Hertz.

And these brainwaves are associated with different states of consciousness, such as meditation and deep sleep. So, science has shown that music provides a natural and automatic way to alter your consciousness. But we knew how to do this long before we had the technology to measure Hertz, we did it through rituals and dance.

When we talked with Dean Radin about his book, Real Magic, the real lesson that stuck is that magic actually can work, but that the ceremony is the most important part of it. Somehow, it’s the going through the motions that puts your mind into gnosis (A Greek word that means to literally “knowledge”), which is an altered state of consciousness that seems to be key in creating real changes in the brain, where psychic phenomena (“magic”) can happen.

That seems to be a modern explanation for something that Shamans have known for millennia. In fact, research has even been done into how altered states of consciousness can play a role in Native American healing and how they achieve those states is through music and dance.

We also talk about the tradition of the sweat lodges, a ritual meant to promote healing, where participants sit in a small hut that gets hotter and hotter while being led in sacred prayer and songs by tribal elders. There is also the jingle dress dance which is a sacred dance of healing that was popularized in the Twentieth Century by a girl who performed the dance to save her own life from the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918… and it worked!

Interestingly enough, when it comes to rituals, you don’t even have to be the one performing the most extreme part to feel the most altered. Being there might be good enough. In fact, there was a study done about extreme rituals (where some of the participants were dancing and some others were temporarily piercing their bodies) and they found that the piercers didn’t necessarily achieve any greater altered state than the non-piercers. To the surprise of the researchers, every participant seemed to have been affected by the ritual in an equal way.

And when it comes to extreme rituals and altered states and dancing, the first thing we think about in the modern world is a rave. Hours of non-stop dancing, drugs, and crazy costumes, all add up to a recipe where people can enter this particular state.

Belgian electronic musician Praga Khan is probably best known for his outrageous techno and industrial act, Lords of Acid. With hits like “Pussy” and “I Must Increase My Bust”, them, they’re known for tongue-in-cheek sexually charged dance anthems.

As Praga says in the interview, when Lords of Acid come to a city it’s a chance for that town to let their freak flag fly. People get dressed up in fetish gear and come out to celebrate . We talked to him to preview his show in Milwaukee at the Miramar Theatre on March 7th, but we also wanted to discuss the album he made with Zak Bagans called NecroFusion, where Zak sent Praga EVPs and then the musician put beats behind them (even Bobby Mackey makes a guest vocal appearance!)

For this episode’s song, we wanted to make sure to capture some of the ridiculous oversexed raver energy that made the Lords of Acid so much fun in the first place. We thought we’d leave subtlety far far behind and just go ahead and say what they didn’t on the NecroFusion album, I want some “Ghost Sex”!

I’m gonna haunt ya
scare the pants off ya
I think tonight you’ll believe
A spooky surprise
you might not believe your eyes
when you see what’s under Casper’s sheet

Ghost sex
I want some ghost sex
Ghost sex
I want some ghost sex
Get down with a phantasm
A face full of ectoplasm
Yeah I’m gonna do it with a specter tonight.
This apparition is a freakin
And you’ve got my K2 peakin’
A paranormal lover from the other side

you might be a little scared
if you’re unprepared
I’m gonna capture you on EVP
But don’t get creeped out
tonight I’m gonna find out
just why they call her “The Brown Lady”

Ghost sex
I want some ghost sex
Ghost sex
I want some ghost sex

Get down with a phantasm
A face full of ectoplasm
Yeah I’m gonna do it with a specter tonight.
This apparition is a freakin
And you’ve got my K2 peakin’
A paranormal lover from the other side

234 – Serial Killers Are Not Hot: The Ghost of Ted Bundy

After being dead for almost three decades, serial killer Ted Bundy is back in the news. Of course, true crime TV shows are in big time since Making A Murderer set the world on fire three years ago, so Netflix is continuing the trend with their come series, Confessions of a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes. It’s the first thing you see when you open Netflix and people are reacting to it.

Now Ted Bundy was a charismatic guy in real life and he’s been played by Hollywood heartthrob Mark Harmon and is there’s currently a movie where he’s going to be played by former teen idol, Zac Efron. So many people have been commenting about how good-looking this brutal serial killer/rapist/necrophiliac was, that Netflix this week had to issue a statement letting people know that talking about how Ted Bundy is attractive is not really that cool.

So, Ted is back in the news, but that’s not the only reason. Jumping in on the trend, Ghost Adventures  star Zak Bagans just bought Ted Bundy’s glasses for $50,000 so that he can display them in his haunted museum in Las Vegas. That’s almost twice what he paid for the Demon House in Gary, Indiana.

Now there’s no guarantee that Ted Bundy actually wore the glasses, but they did find them in a car that he had stolen, so chances are that they’re his. Is it a cursed object? Well, the jury is still out, but people have been seeing Ted Bundy’s ghost since shortly after he was executed. In fact, the story goes that so many guards were seeing his ghost in the electric chair that they refused to enter the execution room alone. Other guards say that he was taunting them from beyond the grave, saying things like “Well, I beat you guys, didn’t I?” Messed up. Reminds me of Horace Pinker from Wes Craven’s criminally underrated Shocker, where the killer is about to be electrocuted and they ask him, “Does the prisoner have any final words?” and he replies, “Yeah, no more Mr. Nice Guy.”

The Megadeth version of “No More Mr. Nice Guy” on the Shocker soundtrack is Epic as well!

My sister Allison closed out the episode by also brings out an interesting story she heard this week about how former New Age guru Doreen Virtue turned around and renounced her former Pagan ways and became a Born Again Christian. She says that all the stuff she used to believe in was actually a pathway to The Devil and Doreen’s recent blogpost, “An A-Z List of New Age Practices to Avoid, And Why” proceeds to tell us why everything from Harry Potter to Yoga are evil and anti-Christian.

Well, that blogpost wasn’t about to go unanswered and Warlock Christian Day decided to rebut her alphabetical proclamations with his own blogpost, “A Former New-Ager Turned Fundie Christian Wackjob To Avoid, And Why”. It’s always a pleasure to read good writers debate each other, especially when we’re talking about magic and religion. Sometimes it’s just fun to argue about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. And when you get through both articles, it seems like the only thing that these two can agree on is that faeries are dangerous. And I think that’s something even Ozzy can agree with!

Also, in this episode we wanted to follow up a little bit on last episode’s conversation about the guy that ran through the gates at the Nevada National Security Site (the former Nevada Nuclear Test Site). To me it seemed that it was unthinkable to roll through the security gates at a military facility because you’re just going to be killed onsite, but it sounds like it happens a lot more than we think (this one was just reported by the news.) One of our Patreon members (and frequent idea contributors!), author C.E. Martin let us know in an email exactly how and why these security breaches happen more often than we think, here’s what he wrote:

1. Someone who wants to do mischief.

I once hear a story of a base in where the Swords to Plowshares group cut through the fence and stormed onto an alert area, some maniac running toward a B-5 with a sledge hammer. He actually reached the plane and managed to get several swings in on it. The guard in a tower watching over these alert-ready, engines-running, nuclear laden bombers had fallen asleep. Thankfully, the guards on foot saw it and stopped the hippy terrorist before too much damage was done (to the plane–the intruder did not fare very well, surviving the beating they took, but just barely).

2. Someone who wants to protest.

Shortly after Desert Storm, my base in Germany, Rhein Main (Frankfurt) was the central air hub for anything going from the eastern US to the Gulf. We had heightened security and a regular assortment of protestors at our gates. One night, when I was actually off duty (after months of no days off, we finally got to work a 6-and-1 as everything came back from the Gulf). Again, it was some group like Swords and Plowshares (or maybe it was them again) cut through the fence and brought an entrourage onto the base–including a camel! They were stopped relatively quickly just inside the fence. They were also fortunate enough not to have gotten roughed up too bad, I was told. (I was sure mad I missed this crazy occurrence).

3. Mistaken travel.

In California, (McClellan AFB, in Sacramento) we were at the end of a major roadway. People often got turned around and ended up at that gate asking for directions. This was the back side of the base–the opposite side being near the highway. People were trying to get to that highway, but the base was in the way. One night, a drunk driver drove through the fence, dodging the gateshack he almost ran over. He ended up on the runway (which he later confessed he thought was the highway) and almost struck the Sacramento Sheriff’s helicopter that had been coming in to refuel for patrol (they rented hangar space from the USAF). I was the closest patrol and got to drive hellbent for leather (something we NEVER were supposed to do) past airplanes and hangars and out onto the runway to get to this guy. With the day-time-like helicopter light’s assistance, i found the truck crashed into a huge drainage ditch at the far end of the runway, and snagged the perp, who had a partially-consumed case of beer in his truck with him. There’s more to that story about toxic waste, me ruining a pair of boots, and almost breaking the guy’s wrists, but I’ll save it for another time…

4. Refusal to follow orders.

Anyone coming onto a military base is subject to search and seizure. Your constitutional rights are suspended when it comes to that. This is to prevent bombs and what not from coming on and damaging resources. Occasionally, someone doesn’t want to comply with a vehicle search (they were picked at random when I was in). In my case, again, back in Germany, an Army sergeant decided he wasn’t going to comply and started to race forward. I jumped in front of his car and put my hand on my gun (he later claimed i drew my pistol, but I don’t think I did). He turned the car around and sped away. This was a back gate on the base, leading directly into the housing area. I called it in and patrols went searching for him… and found him very quick. In his haste to escape, he had lost control of his fancy short-dick sports car and crashed it into a guard rail, doing a considerable amount of damage. He was brought back onto the base, I confirmed his identity and, long story short, he was dishonorably discharged for the whole incident (I think he was also driving drunk or something–can’t recall that part).

Now, while these are just four stories, I assure you, running the gate, while not a “regular” occurrence, is common enough not to be unheard of. During Desert Storm, back in Germany again, we anticipated this problem to the point that at both the main gate and Crash Shortdick’s base housing gate, we had two special patrols parked and ready: Ram-1 and Ram-2. Ram-1 was an armored car, Ram:2 was a regular Humvee. The role of the person sitting in these vehicles, engines running for 12 hour shifts (minus a brief swap out for refueling), was to RAM any vehicle running the gate, to prevent them from reaching anywhere on base. Side note, when the air war kicked off in January 1991, I was actually manning Ram-1 at the main gate. Several of the wives of guys in our unit, who regularly helped bring everyone sandwiches and snacks and stuff while we were on duty, went out and delivered the news that the air war had started.

C.E. Martin, author, USAF vet, and former criminal investigator

Quick hits for other things we mention in the podcast:

For the song this episode, we were thinking about how being a ghost wouldn’t be that great. You’re always stuck hanging around the places that you used to live and work, or worse were killed. After all, Ted Bundy isn’t haunting the sites of his infamous murders, he’s haunting the place where he himself was executed for his crimes. Or maybe now he’s going to haunt Zak Bagans’ museum, roaming around a bunch of musty artifacts and interacting with tourists looking to “touch” some piece of morbid history. Movies and TV shows always treat immortality as a curse more than a blessing, so would it be any fun to be a ghost if you were just an observer? That’s the idea behind this week’s track, “I Don’t Wanna Be A Ghost”.

I don’t want to be a ghost
I just want to be a man
I don’t want to hear my friends
When I cannot talk to them
I’ll be right behind the wall
and I’ll wait for you to call my name

I used to want to come back as a spirit,
and be in some romantic tragedy
I’d be Patrick Swazye and you would be my sweet Demi.

If we can’t be together
who wants to live forever
when you’re just looking right through me,
If I will always be lonely
there’s no point in eternity and
I can see you looking right through me

I don’t want to be a ghost
I just want to be a man
I don’t want to hear my friends
When I cannot talk to them
I’ll be right behind the wall
and I’ll wait for you to call my name

I could walk the earth as a phantom
and be an orb in your phone photos
Scaring all the people who never came to my gravestone

What’s the point of a soul
if there’s no one to make you whole
A spectral spectator that’s bored with immortality.

If we can’t be together
who wants to live forever
when you’re just looking right through me,
If I will always be lonely
there’s no point in eternity and
I can see you looking right through me

I don’t want to be a ghost
I just want to be a man
I don’t want to hear my friends
When I cannot talk to them
I’ll be right behind the wall
and I’ll wait for you to call my name

233 – Beyond Nuts And Bolts: Aliens, The Polar Vortex, Nukes, and Paranormal Art

This week, Wendy and I are once again joined by my sister, Allison Jornlin from Milwaukee Ghosts as well as Steve Ward, a paranormal enthusiast, frequent podcast guest, and weekly contributor to Mack Maloney’s Military X-Files. I met Steve last year at the Michigan Paracon and we bonded over the fact that we both had the same They Live-inspired t-shirt!

Told you it was a cool shirt!

So, we’re currently in the middle of a Polar Vortex and it’s -20 degrees Fahrenheit as I’m typing this. In fact, Wendy had to join us from Chicago because of travel delays due to the crazy weather. And if you were online this week, you saw that the theme was the 2004 climate change apocalypse film The Day After Tomorrow, where Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhaal try to save the world from being iced over due to global warming.

Global warming… but wait, I thought that we were freezing? Right, so the first thing that Allison does is explain how the warming of the oceans is changing the jetstream so that the winds that normally never make it below the Arctic are slowly drifting southward, making winter temperatures colder. And indeed, today was the second coldest day in Chicago history, so this is a real deal cold snap. School has been closed for four days here in Madison already.

So, let’s take the culture war/political debate out of it, because the Earth does not care about our bumper stickers or our Facebook memes. My opinion? I just spent several days in Southern California, air pollution is a real problem and we should do at least something about it. I don’t know if the greenhouse gases that we’re sending into the atmosphere through cars, factories, and massive cow farming are destroying the planet but they’re certainly making it unpleasant to breathe in some places. Whether you believe it’s man-made or not (and plenty of people don’t), we can’t change the fact that the average global temperature has risen over the past century and that’s going to affect all of us.

So how is that paranormal? Well, in 1999, the man who gave us Coast to Coast AM, Art Bell wrote a book with the man who gave us the modern image of the alien grey with Communion, Whitley Strieber. The book was called The Coming Global Superstorm and it was the direct inspiration for the movie, The Day After Tomorrow.

Directed by Roland Emmerich, the dude behind Independence Day and Stargate, it’s surprising that he left out one very significant fact of Strieber’s book… that aliens told him that the rising temperature of the oceans is going to lead to massive climate shifts and the destabilization of human civilization. Whaaaaaaat?! Awesome.

Now Steve is near Battle Creek, Michigan and he’s facing the Polar Vortex just like we are, but he’s keeping warm through reading about the cases of “high strangeness” that often come after UFO sightings. Even the Mothman case (and Steve is a John Keel aficianado!) was much more the just sightings a of flying humanoid, it was Men In Black encounters and UFO sightings, and then of course the collapse of the Silver Bridge (and some people are saying that there are still strange events stemming from those initial incidents.)

It seems like once people start having an experience that we could explain away easily through science, like a UFO encounter (we’re not stretching into the paranormal realm to say that life on other planets is feasible), it’s strange stuff that happens afterwards. There seem to be more than just nuts and bolts materialism involved here.

Steve brings the stories of two great cases that he finds somewhat related. One is of the Welsh UFO contactee Gaynor Sunderland, who claims to have seen a flying saucer land and met two creatures who came out of it. Gaynor seemed to have repeated contact with the aliens, but it wasn’t through physical-as-we-think-of-it encounters, it was through some kind of mental communication where she would go into a trance and seemingly leave her body.

Which sounds a lot like a Seventeenth Century faerie contactee Anne Jefferies who lived down the island in Cornwall. Anne was a 19-year old servant girl but she claimed to have met multiple faeries and was even kissed by them and taken to their magical land. However, after the first encounter which she said happened outside, this all happened while she was having some kind of fit (as they called it, people have speculated it was actually an epileptic seizure) and she never left her room. It sounds like she made it up, but the family that employed her was convinced that she came back from faerieland with magical powers.

They said she never had to eat, that the “Good People” nourished her. She had the power to heal and as the word spread, people would come to her to see if she could cure their ailments. She would predict the people who were coming to visit and apparently to such an accuracy that she not only developed a reputation, but a criminal history because the local Justice of the Peace charged her for communing with evil spirits.

So, there we have two similar young women with strange stories, who are dealing with fantastic creatures without ever having to step foot on a spaceship or actually into faerieland. Some people would say that’s entirely possible with astral travel but to the average UFO researcher, it starts stretching the realms of plausibility. It really is one thing to believe in the possibility of life on other planets and another to believe in faeries. But it called “the unknown” for a reason. Who’s to say those stories aren’t a lot more related than we think.

Psi-Girls by Susan Hiller

Which brings us to Wendy’s story of the week, the death of American-born but England-living artist Susan Hiller, who just passed away this week at age 78. Now Susan was inspired by paranormal themes and incorporated them into all her art.

I’m interested in occult powers, and if people find this ludicrous that is their problem. I’m not a true believer but these things are there and to say they aren’t is ridiculous. I’ve recently made a piece called Channels about people relating their so-called near-death experiences. I am interested that these stories occur all over the world and always have done, and if we don’t think that is interesting then we are very boring.

Susan Hller, 2015

One of her most famous works was called the “Sisters of Menon” which was based on a telepathy experiment that she was working on with several other female artists. The idea was that they would all do art at the same time and try to “send” each other messages and images telepathically.

But what happened is that Susan seemed to channel this group of Ancient Greek women who wanted to speak through her in her art. She found herself possessed by them to start “automatic writing”, where you just put your pen down and start writing something that isn’t coming from you, but seemingly another source. She found herself possessed by the group, so her telepathy experiment turned into something very very different.

I’m embarrassed to say I’d never heard of her before seeing that she passed and I lived only two blocks from the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis where the Sisters of Menon was being displayed. I was even there a few times and never saw it, but at least now I can appreciate it.

Sisters of Menon, 1972 -79
Section I: 4 L-shaped panels of automatic writing, blue pencil on A4 paper with typed labels (1972)
Section II: 4 panels, typescript and gouache on paper (1979)
35 7/8 x 25 1/4 in. / 91.2 x 64.2 cm 12 1/2 x 9 1/8 in. / 31.8 x 23 cm

What I thought was the most interesting this week however, was the strange high speed chase through the Nevada Nuclear Test Site on Monday. Now, the test site has been dormant for almost thirty years now, but starting in the 1940s, the US Air Force detonated hundreds of atomic bombs there. Remember Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull‘s infamous refrigerator scene? Yeah, that’s where it took place.

It’s not quite as famous as its neighbor, Area 51, and it’s now called the Nevada National Security Site (probably because we’re not blowing as much stuff up there now) but it certainly is a pretty secretive place, complete with a mile-long air strip that’s above top secret. So, what exactly happened?

According to the official statement from the Department of Energy, the driver drove past the security gate on January 28th, 2019 at 5:18pm and was quickly followed by local law enforcement as well as the private security firm that the NNSS hires to do the investigation. They chased him for 8 miles before he stopped an approached the officers with a “cylindrical object in-hand”. When he wouldn’t drop the object or comply with their commands, they shot him fatally. There’s a no-record policy on the site because of national security, so the officer didn’t have a body cam on.

We talk about this a little flippantly in the podcast, but as I’m writing this, they announced the name of the guy that was killed. Nekiylo Dawayne Graves was a 27-year old from Iowa. I’m looking at his Facebook profile and there hasn’t been any updates since 2014 (unless that’s all Facebook is leaving up), but he basically just looks like a kinda nerdy black guy. He’s into rap music like Jadakiss, has a couple tough-guy pics up, but nothing too weird. He has opinions about Captain America and Batman and calls himself the pretty sweet comic book-y name, Kilo The Conqueror. His last post from 2014 is a link to a store called OPSGEAR, which looks like it’s combat-style clothing .

Nekiylo Dawayne Graves

Looking at his pictures and his family on there is depressing because you realize you’re looking at a young life that ended tragically. Sure there’s a couple “thug-style” pictures on there, but there’s also normal selfies, pics with his family and friends, and nothing more than the kind of thing that I would’ve done to look tough or play a character, especially when you’re into comics. It does look like he did some time in jail in 2015, which might explain the Facebook disappearance around that time. And there is a depressing Change.org petition he signed because his father was locked up and missed his childhood.

But what would compel him to make that drive when he knew he was risking his life? Was he trying to learn some secrets and it just went too far? Was he disturbed and just wanted a “suicide by cop“?

I don’t know, but I hope we learn more about this sad story and get some answers, because the Nevada Testing Site has already killed hundreds of thousands of Americans through nuclear fallout (including famously being implicated in the cancer death of John Wayne) and now it has sadly claimed one more life and we have no idea why.

If you think Vegas is tacky now, picture it back in the 50s, when tourists used to come there to see atomic bombs go off…

And speaking of the “Nevada Proving Ground” as the NNSS was originally called, I find it a little hard to believe that almost eighty years later and we’re still dealing with the legacy of the Cold War. We look back to WW2 as some kind of Golden Age (the Greatest Generation and all that). Like the fact that we had the moral high ground over the Nazis made life simpler. And it might have when it came to the war effort. We were unified, we had the draft, 40 year old guys were going to war. We haven’t see that kind of thing since.

I mean, everyone in America hates the Taliban because of terrorism and female oppression (if you haven’t read The Kite Runner, which is about pre-Taliban Afghanistan, it’s worth it just to see how even a modern country can quickly devolve into medieval barbarism), but after 17 years and nothing much changed in Afghanistan, I doubt most regular people would feel some kind of moral twang if we just left right now. There wasn’t the same kind of ambiguity after Pearl Harbor.

Allison and my uncle might have lied about his age because he was eager to fight for his country, but he still didn’t want to serve with any “Negroes” in his unit. It was a different time and there were just as many problems as there were now. The creators of the atomic bomb were desperate to beat the Nazis to the secret of nuclear war, but once we had it, we didn’t need it. Dresden proved that we had the will to kill, Hiroshima just did it with one plane instead of many.

Truman wanted to show Uncle Joe Stalin that we were ready for the world after the Nazis where America finally assumed its place as the most powerful nation on Earth, where the balance of power finally shifted continents. Stalin was a murderous bastard, but their dick-swinging contest ended up costing the world millions of lives. Mostly innocent ones in proxy wars, because everyone knew what it all-out war would mean between two real nuclear powers (The Day After showed us that in the 80s.)

The Doomsday Clock was set at Two Minutes to Midnight in 1953, when the Soviets and the Americans both tested thermonuclear weapons within ten months of each other. We no longer had a monopoly on mass destruction. In 2019, the clock is set there again and we still hear about the “manipulative” and “evil” Russians in the news. The more things change, the more they stay the same and we’re still living with the legacy they powerbrokers left for us in the Atomic Age. We’re still haunted by “The Ghost of Los Alamos”.

A generation’s fear
poisoning the atmosphere
blowing up some godforsaken burning cursed place

Building a doomsday device
Progress demands sacrifice,
We just can’t afford to fall behind in this race

Out in the no-man’s land,
Playing God in the desert sand
Salt the earth and bomb it all to hell
When war goes all out
We’re left living in the Fallout
the ghost of Los Alamos
will haunt us still

A burning horror
for the children of Gomorrah,
Firestorms of nightmares and cities made of ash.

Secrets crawling out of caves
There’s no bodies left for graves,
Cover up the sickness with a blinding brutal flash

Out in the no-man’s land,
Playing God in the desert sand
Salt the earth and bomb it all to hell
When war goes all out
We’re left living in the Fallout
the ghost of Los Alamos
will haunt us still

Out in the no-man’s land,
Playing God in the desert sand
Salt the earth and bomb it all to hell
When war goes all out
We’re left living in the Fallout
the ghost of Los Alamos
will haunt us still

230 – Curses And Pranks: From The Rendlesham Incident To The Lost Franklin Expedition

We’re back for another round of paranormal discussion this week as we focus on our favorite new stories in the past week. Once again, Wendy and I are joined by Scott Markus from WhatsYourGhostStory.com and Tea Krulos, Milwaukee ghost tour guide as well as the author of books like Heroes In The Night, Monster Hunters, and the upcoming Apocalypse Any Day Now.

This last week I couldn’t stop thinking about “The Franklin Curse”, which was in the Canadian news right before the New Year. If you haven’t heard of Franklin’s Lost Expedition, it was a British expedition to find the Northwest Passage (a trade route through the Arctic where Europeans could sail to Asia without having to go under South America because the Panama Canal wasn’t built yet) launched in 1845. There were two ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror and they were both fitted with state of the art technology. It was supposed to be an easy mission beaus there were less than 300-some miles of Arctic coast to chart. But they disappeared and several expeditions were sent out to find what happened. There was even a bounty of Twenty Thousand Pounds (worth a hundred thousand US dollars at the time) to find them. The local Inuit people had contact with the explorers and said that the crew had resorted to cannibalism by the end, but the ships and most of the bodies were never found.

In 2007, Dan Simmons wrote a fictionalized version of the events called The Terror and AMC released a TV version of it in 2018. Interestingly enough, HMS Erebus was discovered in 2014 by accident and HMS Terror was found in 2016. The local Nunavut people who live near the shipwrecks on King William Island have long felt that the island has had spirits or “invisible people” and that the disturbing of the wrecks has disturbed those spirits. Some of the locals have blamed six deaths that happened during a two-week period in August in their small community of Gjoa Haven on the curse of the Franklin. Earlier this year, Inuit elders went to the site of the wreckage to bless it, in hopes the spirits would be appeased.

Wendy was excited to share the latest news of the Rendlesham Forest Incident, often called Britain’s Roswell. We were first introduced to this story at the Paradigm Symposium by the brilliant Peter Robbins who wrote the book Left At East Gate with the now-controversial Larry Warren. But in the original incident, several US servicemen had seen strange lights in the sky descending towards the Rendlesham Forest over a period of nights in 1980. When they went to go explore the area they saw the lights land, they found burn marks on nearby trees and indentations in the ground in a triangular pattern, they even called the police about it.

Since then, the incident has been hotly debated, and Peter Robbins’ book goes into detail about missing time, underground bases, and government conspiracies. But just a week ago, researcher Dr. David Clarke had claimed that he was told the incident was just a prank played by British SAS commandos on their American counterparts. That’s backed up a little by a story from our friend C.E. Martin’s book, Stranger Than Fiction, where he recalls meeting a serviceman who was stationed at the air force base and talked about an area of the forest where electrical stuff didn’t work and cars didn’t start, they used to take people out there and prank them. So, that culture did exist on the base at the time! Is Clarke’s story true? Well, that’s another one we’ll be debating for a long time. We discuss Bobby Mackey’s Music World in this segment as well and here’s a link to our episode with their official paranormal investigation team.

15251192137_380081b617_bTea talks to us about a New Year’s ritual he started doing last year and that’s watching the live unveiling of the Doomsday Clock. The Doomsday Clock was created in 1947 by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists to warn humanity about how close we are to destroying the planet through our own technology and hubris. While the danger used to be mostly nuclear war, they’ve included things like climate change in their determination. The closest it’s ever been is Two Minutes To Midnight, first in 1953 after the US and the Soviets both tested thermonuclear weapons for the first time and then again in 2018 mainly because they were shocked by the rhetoric of President Trump toward North Korea and what they consider to be an insufficient response to the temperatures changing throughout the world. Will 2019 bring us closer or further away from manmade destruction? Tea will let us know when it happens. And hey, here’s to hopinh we don’t blow ourselves up! Also, don’t forget that Iron Maiden wrote one of their best songs about The Doomsday Clock as well!

Also, Tea mentions that Josh Gates is going to be in Milwaukee at the end of January and he’s going (along with our frequent co-host Allison Jornlin from MilwaukeeGhosts.com) and hoping they can convince Josh Gates to finish looking for one of the prizes from the 1980s treasure hunt book, The Secret. That’s a puzzle book combining 12 short verses and 12 fantasy paintings. You would take the painting with a verse and try to determing the clues that would lead you to one of twelve boxes buried in various parks around North America. Each box contained a key that could be redeemed for a jewel worth $1,000. The author died in a car crash in 2005 and only 2 of the boxes have been found. So Josh Gates did a whole Expedition Unknown on the online braintrust that has been working on it for several years. Image 10 contains a clue that’s supposed to lead people to a park by Mliwaukee’s City Hall and Gates almost started digging there, but gave up because of the weather while they were recording the show. Tea is going to grab him and make him finish the job!

d57Finally, Scott talks about some new horror movie news that are based on real-life strangeness. One is the trailer for Followed which is about a YouTuber (they caller her a vlogger, but that word is kinda unwieldy) who decides to stay in a hotel. It’s probably based on the sad story of Elisha Lam, a young woman from Vancouver who was visiting Los Angeles and was seen acting strangely on security camera footage from the Cecil Hotel (former home of Richard Ramirez, the Night Stalker). Two weeks later, they found her body in the water tank on the roof and still have no idea how she got there.

He also talks a little bit about the new trailer for The Haunting of Sharon Tate starring Hilary Duff. This new film beats Quentin Tarantino’s Charles Manson film Once Upon A Time In Hollywood out by a few months, but it’s also going to focus more on the strange premonition of death that murder victim Sharon Tate had a couple years before her and her friends were attacked by the Manson Family in a crime that would be immortalized for its strangeness and brutality. 

One of the things that we talked about this week was the culture war between believers and skeptics, between the political Left and the political Right, between hardcore atheists and fundamentalists. This conflict has seemed to progress from just disagreeing about dogma and particular points of belief to “cancel culture”, the idea that if someone believes something you find offensive or has done something you don’t like, you want to take away their means of making a living.

It’s a scorched earth total war tactic that has become more and more popular in the world of social media (particularly in a space where hot takes are welcomed, like Twitter.) It’s no longer enough to “agree to disagree”, the other side is to be shunned and disrespected. There is no room for debate or discussion, you’re either with us or against us. We see this in the paranormal world all the time between the various factions of ghost hunters, UFOlogists, etc… And I guess, I don’t feel that’s very conducive to finding the truth, because things aren’t usually as absolute or black and white as we’d like them to be. Anyway, that’s the idea behind this week’s Sunspot song, “Us Vs. Them”

Us versus them
right versus wrong
Oh won’t you tell me
just what side you’re on.

It’s total war and
you gotta make a stand
you plant your flag and fight, down to the last man.

There is no middle
there is no excuse
there is no compromise
and there is no truce

Us versus them
right versus wrong
Oh won’t you tell me
just what side you’re on.

You’re either with us or against us
you’re on or off of the team
We don’t need to talk or negotiate with the enemy

no we don’t make no deals
we don’t cross the line
we made our choice, we picked our side , and now we’re ride or die.

Us versus them
right versus wrong
Oh won’t you tell me
just what side you’re on.

226 – Strange Frequencies: Technology and the Supernatural with Peter Bebergal

At the beginning of the Millennium, I used to visit the website tarot.com almost every single day. It was a good-looking page that had some really cool tarot cards and it was free to do a little reading everyday. You could pay for a full “Celtic Cross” elaborate kind of thing, or you could just get a little three card session for free. You would ask it a specific question and get three cards back, one to tell you about yourself, one to tell you about your situation, and one to tell you about your challenges.

But there was always something that I felt was off in trying to use a computer to divine something about your life. There’s no human element, there’s no psychic or medium to help you interpret the cards, while it felt interesting and fun, it never felt magical. Tarot on a computer screen never felt sacred. It’s zeroes and ones, I never felt what Peter Bebergal in his new book Strange Frequencies: The Extraordinary Story of the Technological Quest for the Supernatural, calls “enchantment”. That feeling you are participating in something outside your natural human experience, like religious ecstasy or the of meditation, or when you’re talking with a medium and they tell you things that are impossible to know.

The last time we had Peter Bebergal on, we talked about his great book, Season of the Witch: How The Occult Saved Rock ‘n’ Roll, and this book is just as fascinating. He argues that using technology to uncover the paranormal has been with us since we started trying to explain the universe. Something as simple as rubbing a lucky rabbit’s foot is magical technology. It doesn’t have to be an Ovilus plucking words out of the ether. And really, is looking for signs of the future in animal entrails any different than a computer program designed to spit out random predictions? The same forces that would use the viscera to relay a message could just as easily use the zeroes and ones, couldn’t they?

Author Peter Bebergal

Fast forward fifteen years and I use my Apple Watch to meditate every day. I’ve listened to MP3s of hypnosis sessions where I try to recollect past lives. I use my phone alarm to wake me an hour before I’d normally awaken sometimes so that I can explore lucid dreaming. I’ve gone from someone who scoffed the first time a psychic told me that she would do phone and Skype sessions (all I could think of was Miss Cleo) to being shocked and amazed at some of the things I’ve been told during those very same sessions.

When you watch Ghost Hunters or Ghost Adventures, the technology is as big a part of the show as the history of the haunted location. They set up digital voice recorders to catch EVPs, thermal imaging cameras to look for variations in the temperature (cold spots!), Electromagnetic Field Detectors to reveal temporary energy fluctuations. We don’t have the technology to capture a spirit like in Ghostbusters, but we can try to “capture” phenomena on tape when they happen. Technology and the supernatural are more intertwined than ever, but as Peter argues in his book, that’s nothing new. Some of the things we touch on:

In the episode, Wendy and I talk about how much fun we had at Krampusnacht in Milwaukee on the day before St. Nick’s. We have a whole episode dedicated to everyone’s favorite Christmas demon! Here’s a link to some amazing photos of Milwaukee Krampusnacht 2018 as well!

The song this week is inspired by the title of Peter’s book Strange Frequencies and the Spirit Box. Even our most famous inventors, Edison and Tesla, both thought that they could eventually design a radio to communicate across the veil (or even between planets) and we took that idea and ran with it. Here is Sunspot with “The Strangest Frequency”.

If I could talk to those I lost again
to try and make amends
among the graves

Some kinda wiretap
from far beyond the map
somehow these words get trapped
between the waves

Screaming in the darkness
broadcasting our callsign
hoping to break though reality
a mechanical catharsis
tuned in from the other side
I heard you on the strangest frequency

Finding patterns in the static
is automatic
with all these toys

sufficiently
advanced technology
is just necromancy
with some white noise

Screaming in the darkness
broadcasting our callsign
hoping to break though reality
a mechanical catharsis
tuned in from the other side
I heard you on the strangest frequency
I heard you on the strangest frequency
I heard you on the strangest frequency

225 – Evil: From Serial Killers to Slenderman

This weekend we did our first live podcast from a convention! Allison from Milwaukee Ghosts, Scott from WhatsYourGhostStory.com, Wendy, and I did a panel on EVIL at Wizard World Madison and it was a fantastic experience. Here’s how they described the panel in the literature:

From urban legends to comic books to true crime, evil permeates our pop culture. Hear about real cases of evil and how they influenced movies and TV with Madison haunted historian Mike Huberty, Milwaukee paranormal researcher Allison Jornlin, Waukesha Ghost tour guide Wendy Lynn Staats, and Chicago ghost story author, Scott Markus. From Ed Gein and Psycho to John Wayne Gacy and evil clowns, the Slenderman to famous demonic possessions, the crew behind Wisconsin paranormal and pop culture podcast, See You On The Other Side, discuss the real life evils hiding under the fiction.

Here are your evil panelists! Mike, Allison, Scott, and Wendy

So, we each took a topic that had a Wisconsin connection (since we were in Madison) of evil in real life that had paranormal implications and also had a ton of pop culture connections.

It was a great crowd and a lot of fun and if we met you at the convention, then thanks for coming to visit us at See You On The Other Side for the first time!

Wendy giving us the “skinny” on Slenderman

Evil often hides in the form of good intentions. For the song this week, we go back to this worn-out, but still valuable quote:

He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.

Nietzche, Beyond Good and Evil

The mantra of revolution is often that once a few “necessary evils” are taken care of, they can stop and that the ends will justify the means. Whether it’s the French Revolution or the Bolsheviks, history hasn’t borne that out.  Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Here is Sunspot with “Evil On Evil”.

You want the power
but they won’t go without a fight
you said you’re gonna drain the swamp
this time you’ll do it right

you said you want justice
no one said it’d be bloodless
it’s time, the heads will roll
ain’t that how it always goes

Fire with fire, you gotta be lethal
it’s just evil on evil
Drag em through the eye of a needle
now you’re evil on evil

Tie up the noose
payback’s a bitch
fail the purity test
we’ll burn the witch.

you said you want justice
no one said it’d be bloodless
it’s time, the heads will roll
ain’t that how it always goes

Fire with fire, you gotta be lethal
it’s just evil on evil
Drag em through the eye of a needle
now you’re evil on evil

224 – Dreams of the Future: Precognition, Retrocausality, and Free Will

Have you ever dreamt something and it happened in real life? I have. I was eleven years old and it was the summer of 1988. I was in the middle of a nightmare when all of a sudden it was winter and I was getting off the school bus and kids across the street started throwing snowballs at my friend and I. My friend ran into his house and grabbed a red plastic circular sled to use as a shield against the snowballs. Thirty seconds later, I was back in the nightmare. When I woke up I thought it was weird, but it was just a dream about a snowball fight. Maybe I’d seen a movie about wintertime or someone mentioned it on the radio earlier in the day and it planted a seed in my head. I didn’t think I was having an experience of precognition.

Was the Christmas Story on earlier that day?

Six months later, it was the first snowfall in Winter and I was coming home with my friend after school and everything unfolded exactly as I had seen. He even grabbed the red circular sled and used it as a shield, but I had never seen the sled before, in real life at least. At least I didn’t remember seeing it. I thought it was weird, but I still believed that it was all just a coincidence. Snowball fights are common enough, circular plastic sleds are popular (we had the same model in blue in my house), I didn’t think it was unexplainable. 

What was unexplainable was the feeling that I was watching something from the future. Like I had seen it all before, more than just deja vu. I was re-experiencing something that already happened. My experience isn’t unusual, it’s common for even non-believers in psychic powers to experience some kind of premonition in dreams. They’re dreams after all, it’s easy to chalk it up to coincidence and it’s the most kind of empirical event of all. A dream only happens to you. 

No even though my particular experience was fairly mundane (just a snowball fight), it does beg a lot of questions. If I was watching a pre-recording of the future, what could that that mean? And those implications are what we discuss in this episode.

Now, there’s been a lot of research lately on the idea of retrocausality, which is where cause and effect happen backwards. So information from the future determines what happens in the present and it’s been displayed in experiments looking at the behavior of subatomic particles, so it’s not like we’re getting messages from the future. But subatomic means that we’re in the land of quantum physics, which is what Einstein famously called “spooky action at a distance”. Of course, quantum physics is a field that is regularly abused by lovers of the paranormal as possible explanations for everything from telekinesis to ghosts, because some of the behavior of subatomic particles seems unexplainable with the reigning theories of physics. If time is set and is happening all at once, we’re just perceiving it the way we do as we travel through it, then maybe it’s possible for super tiny particles to relay information to the past.

But if everything that’s going to happen has already happened, is there anything we can do to change the future? What does that mean for free will? Do we really have any choices in our lives or are we predestined to live out the path that our genes, chemicals, and neural programming has laid out for us?

So, yeah, this episode goes deep into the nature of reality, man… we talk about:

Then we share our personal precognitive dreams as well as the dreams of two of our Patreons, Ghost Host Lisa from Madison Ghost Walks and C.E. Martin, an author who just came out with a great book called Stranger Than Fiction: A Skeptic’s Journey, and he allowed us to read you a chapter directly from his own personal experience. If you’d like to check out the book for yourself (it’s on Kindle Unlimited!), then click right here.

For the song this week, we were inspired by a study that came out in 2017 that showed even if we could see the future, almost 90% of us wouldn’t want to know. While we have an overwhelming desire to control our destinies, which is why we see fortune tellers and psychics, we’re just looking for confirmation that we’re gonna win. We’re looking for messages to help us from the Other Side, but not necessarily tell us that we can’t change anything. Mystery is baked into the human condition. If someone spoiled Game Of Thrones for me, I would straight up punch them in the face, what do you think it would be like if they spoiled my own story? I know that people can be cool with predestination, but as for now, I’m all T2 “NO FATE”. Here’s our track, “Remember The  Future”.

Don’t you cry for Cassandra,
don’t you cry for her tragedy
If you could remember the future
you might not like what you see

Look away boy look away boy
what’s to be is always to be
look away boy look away boy
before it can drive you crazy

Don’t you cry for a crystal ball
to try and turn time’s arrow
If you could remember the future
you might not like what it shows

Look away boy look away boy
enjoy your free will while you can
look away boy look away boy
or it will just drive you mad.

246 – Blessings For Beltane: Magic and Rituals With Zita Christian

Beltane, which occurs on May 1st, is the celebration of fertility and the encouragement of the world coming back to life. It is halfway between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice. The last time we talked about May Day was in our discussion with Selena Fox of the Circle Sanctuary and this year we’re returning to the topic because it is a sacred time not just for Pagans. There’s a reason the Christian holiday Easter, a festical celebrating resurrection, is celebrated at this time of year, because it fits in perfectly with the spirit of rebirth. Spring is naturally a magical time as the earth returns from the dead of winter.

First things first, though. Piggybacking on Episode 245, which was a discussion of film Antrum, supposedly the deadliest film ever made, we received a voicemail from the producer, Eric Thirteen, himself. You can hear that voicemail in this episode. So, that’s an awesome way to kick the show off!

“Ritual without intent is just routine.”

Zita Christian

A ritual doesn’t have to be some sort of ceremony where you sacrifice a ram or a huge mass where you take communion with a hundred other people. It can be as small as rubbing a rabbit’s foot before playing a slot machine, or wearing a hat upside down to rally during a baseball game, or putting on your “lucky shirt” before going on a first date.

We do little rituals all the time, not thinking that they’re magic (how does wearing a hat upside down make you hit the ball better?) but hoping that they’ll help us with a desired outcome. The help us focus our mind, they help us declare our intent. We rub that rabbit’s foot because we want to win, we put on our lucky shirt because it puts us in an attractive mindset.

Rituals and ceremonies have long been human ways of helping us commemorate the passage of time. It’s the coming-of-age bar mitzvah or high school graduation. It’s the shower to welcome a new baby or the saying goodbye of a funeral. There are certain things that we do at all of these ceremonies, whether it’s the games at a shower or the garter belt at a wedding (or even the Electric Slide), they stand for a shorthand that we all know to celebrate together.

But what if you want to do something a little different for your celebration? 23% of all Americans say they have no religious affiliation and it’s usually religion where we get many of our ritual traditions from. So what happens when you’re looking to create a special ceremony but something with meaning to your life and a connection to something besides organized religion?

You call a ritualist, like Zita Christian. You call someone experienced in designing a ceremony that has a connection to the symbolism of spirituality and to ancient traditions but is also personal to you and unbound by the rules of formal religious institutions.

From the very first psychic experience that Zita Christian had when she was only 9 years old, playing a board game and seeing a strange pulsing red energy emerge from the board, she knew that there was something out there that was bigger than ourselves.

After a career as a romance author, she found herself fascinated with magick and astrology and using her learning to help people create powerful rituals in their own lives and has been specializing in weddings (she was a romance novelist after all!) She also performs celebrations and will be doing a Beltane ceremony this year, so in this episode she shares with us her story. We talk about the power of rituals (whether you believe in magic or not) and the history and traditions of Beltane. Some highlights include:

  • How the Pagan calendar is based around the Sun, because it was the life-giving force that the agricultural communities were dependent on
  • Why farmers should be having more sex in their fields
  • How the dance around the Maypole is a lot dirtier than you thought it was
  • How The Industrial Revolution changed our sense of the way time passes
  • Simple rituals that you can do for Beltane and May Day to celebrate it in your own way

You can find Zita’s podcast and rituals at Moon River Rituals, where you can see her upcoming events as well as ask her questions about creating your own ceremonies to help you commemorate something special.

And of course for this episode, we wanted to write the kind of song you could dance around the Maypole to. So boys grab the white streamers and girls grab the red, and here’s Sunspot with “The Blossom Crown”.

Today we are the endless young
for the new cycle has begun
so give yourself to abandon
and wear the blossom crown

So gather roses while ye may
summer’s too short a date.
every beautiful day
is a paradise

Hail to the Queen of May
the daughter of the Fae
holding the doomed bouqet
a sacrifice

Today we are the endless young
for the new cycle has begun
so give yourself to abandon
and wear the blossom crown

the battle for the dark is won
the winter crone is on the run
and everyone’s a shining sun
who wears the blossom crown

So gather roses while ye may
summer’s too short a date.
every beautiful day
is a paradise

Hail to the Queen of May
the daughter of the Fae
holding the doomed bouqet
a sacrifice

love with all your soul
dance around the pole
red and white laugh in delight
red and white they will ignite
red and white complete the rite,

Today we are the endless young
for the new cycle has begun
so give yourself to abandon
and wear the blossom crown

the battle for the dark is won
the winter crone is on the run
and everyone’s a shining sun
who wears the blossom crown

Z Marks the Spot: A List Of Lost Cities

Ever since Plato first wrote about it, people have been searching for proof of the lost city of Atlantis. The tale has survived centuries and become a staple of Western fiction and popculture. But the spectacular city sunk beneath the waves in a single day and night is far from the only lost city of old.

In 2016, The Lost City of Z debuted in theaters, chronicling Col. Percy Harrison Fawcett’s search for a lost city he believed existed in the jungles of Brazil. Percy had come up with the idea of such a lost city based on his many travels in the region—he believed there had to be ruins of a lost civilization somewhere in the jungle. Like Atlantis, Z remained lost after Percy’s death, although some believe other sites, embellished by native tales, may have been what the British explorer was really after.

Somewhere between Atlantis and Z, between lost and found, there have been many other “lost cities” on our Earth:

El Dorado, the City of Gold

A mythical city that enticed European explorers for two centuries, El Dorado’s origins are more murky than its location. A gleaming city of gold, the fabled location has been suggested by some to be a fabricated tale used as a diversion to send treasure hunters on fruitless quests while the real riches of the Central American region were hidden away.

Madoc’s Settlement

During the Elizabethan era, a tale of a Welsh prince setting forth in the 11th Century on a fantastic sea voyage reached the zenith of its popularity. In the legend, Madoc sails for the New World, not once, but twice, taking settlers with him to the New Wolrd long before Columbus. While many have scoffed at this idea, it was eventually discovered that the Mandan Indians of North America shared many words with that of the Welsh language. Further, ruins were found near Louisville, KY of what might have been an ancient Welsh settlement, long abandoned and forgotten.

North American Vikings

Long before Christopher Columbus stumbled across the Caribbean islands searching for a new trade route to India, Vikings settled in North America, leaving behind settlements in Greenland and Nova Scotia that outlived them and were lost to time. In the 1960s, remains of such settlements were discovered in Newfoundland by the husband and wife team of Helge Ingstad and Anne Stine Ingstad. Since their initial discoveries, a number of sites have been found, establishing that the Norsemen did indeed at least attempt to settle in the New World.

The Bimini Road

Large, submerged stone blocks set in the sea bed not far from Florida were discovered in 1968 by off the coast of North Bimini island. Many theories have been proposed to account for the megalithic structure, including one theory that the structure was actually an ancient Phoenecian port. Archaeologist William Donato and his team put this forth in May 2005, after cataloging and photographing more than a thousand additional stones beyond those previously appearing on shows such as “In Search of…” and “Unsolved Mysteries”

Pompeii

Buried by volcanic ash from Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D., the Roman town of Pompeii was lost to history for centuries, its location and even existence forgotten. Digging in the area in 1592 and again in 1738 eventually led to the city’s re-discovery and this snapshot of what life, and death is still studied today, Pompeii and its inhabitants preserved in grisly effigy due to the heat of a pyroclastic cloud from the volcano’s eruption.

Sodom and Gomorrah

Believed by many to be a fictional tale of God’s wrath in the Bible, the towns of Sodom and Gomorrah were confirmed in 2015 when Sodom’s ruins were discovered in modern-day Jordan.

Teotihuacan

Some lost cities aren’t lost at all, but their origins are. Located twenty-five miles northeast of Mexico City, the sprawling complex of Teotihuacan was discovered by the Nahua people as they emigrated south, in the early twelfth century. Estimated to have been in ruins for more than a thousand years, the repopulated site became one of the first three cities to ally and form the Aztec Empire. But Teotihuacan’s origins, despite being only 25 miles from what today is Mexico City, still remain uncertain.

Troy

Once believed to be a fictional city from early Greek literature, the ancient lost city of Troy was discovered in modern day Turkey in the 1860s. Excavations that continued into the 21st Century eventually revealed that Troy had been destroyed and rebuilt many times, each new version built atop the ruins of the last.

Ubar

A fabled trading outpost in the middle of the Arabian desert, Ubar was believed by many to be a work of fiction until NASA discovered it with satellite scans of the region. Thriving hub of trade in the region, the city was apparently abandoned at some point and buried by the sands, earning it the name “The Atlantis of the Sands”.

Yonaguni

Located off the shores of the Japanese island of Yonaguni lie immense structures submerged below the surface of the sea. While many claim these are nothing more than naturally-occurring geologic formations, there are many who believe the sites to be remnants of a long-lost civilization that existed at a time when the world’s ocean levels were much lower. Backing up this claim that the ruins are indeed manmade are what appear to be carved features, including a dolphin and a human face.

Y is for Yokai: The Japanese Monsters of legend

Japan’s first museum of supernatural monsters opened Friday, April 26, 2019 in Hiroshima. Exhibits at the Miyoshi Mononoke Museum immerse visitors in the strange world of yokai, Japan’s voluminous, colorful bestiary, through historical artifacts and interactive digital installations.

The yokai umbrella covers a legion of legendary creatures including tricksters, phantoms, weird animalistic spirits, and, the unquiet dead known as yurei. Sometimes whimsical and sometimes deadly, these phantasms have a style all their own.

The first reference to Yokai appears in the oldest known work of Japanese literature and the basis of Japanese mythology, the 8th century Kojiki (古事記; Record of Ancient Matters). These spirits embodying the power of place, the ferocity of land and water, and the intensity of human emotion likely grew out of the animism inherent in Shintoism, Japan’s indigenous religion. Although yokai have ancient origins they have inspired many modern media sensations including Yokai Watch, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and, of course, Pokemon.

Although the vengeful hungry ghosts of the variety so famous now in cross-over horror hits like The Ring and The Grudge haunt the most fearsome side of the yokai spectrum, my favorites are those monsters that clearly illustrate the often overlooked Japanese sense of humor. Here are my top 3 yokai!

The Kappa

The Kappa (No, it’s not just a sushi roll.) is a predatory, amphibious water spirit, seemingly half man and half turtle. It preys on unwary swimmers in rivers and lakes drowning them for nefarious purposes. Kappas seek to eat your flesh, suck your blood, and then yank your soul out through your anus. However, the heinous villany of the Kappa can be repelled quite effectively by the common fart. Ubiquitous, embarrassing emissions, in my case, so I’ve never felt so safe . . . and empowered by my wonky digestion. So dear companions, in future, remember, I’m not launching my underwater stink bombs at you. I’m valiantly saving us all from a watery grave.

Tofu Boy

Tofu Kozo, which literally translates as “Tofu Boy”, is a treacherous spirit who takes the form of a small child in antiquated, traditional garb who just wants to offer you some fresh tofu. This would be enough to send most modern Westerners running for the hills. The tofu is not even fried. Instead the block is milky white decorated with a simple red maple leaf. Curiously this sounds a lot like the Canadian flag, but I don’t think we can blame Canada for this one. Apparently the Tofu Boy intends to tempt you with his deadly bait. Even one bite of the tofu will infect you with a nightmarish fatal fungus. But just don’t take tofu from strangers and you’ll be fine.

Tanuki

Tanuki is a shape-shifting racoon dog trickster. The Japanese racoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides viverrinus), also called the tanuki, is a real, four-legged animal, but it only slightly resembles this mischievous bipedal creature. The Tanuki of legend is a fun-loving prankster who may impersonate your friends to cheat you, but he usually just wants some free food. The true superpower of the Tanuki is not his trickery or his shape-shifting ability, but his enormous and supernaturally versatile testicles. Yes, Tanuki uses his scrotum in a variety of imaginative ways — playing it like a drum, wearing it like a hat, or brandishing it like a weapon. He’s even been known to fly away by inflating his extraordinary nut-sack like a hot air balloon. Today you will commonly find Tanuki statues all around Japan, which serve as both a good luck charm and a reminder not to take life so seriously.

For further reading, I would recommend these books. If they don’t save your life, at least you’ll die laughing.

X is for Xenoglossy: Speaking in Unknown and Primeval/Spirit Languages

As we approached the last few letters of the 2019 A to Z Blog Challenge, the letter X loomed ominously before me. With so few “X” words in the English language, let alone in the subset of paranormal topics, what would make for an interesting topic to write about? Luckily, I found a word that will surely remain in my back pocket for future Scrabble games that also describes a fascinating paranormal phenomenon: XENOGLOSSY!

Derived from the Greek words for “xenos” (foreigner) and “glossa” (tongue or language), Xenoglossy is a term purportedly coined by French parapsychologist Charles Robert Richet. He is also credited with originally using the word “ectoplasm”, the slimy substance that would materialize at seances during the Spiritualist movement and was fondly popularized by the character of Slimer throughout the Ghostbusters movies. Richet was adamant about finding scientific explanations for paranormal phenomena and did extensive investigating of psychic mediums. But his research led him to believe that mediumship was a form of extrasensory perception rather than communication with the dead, as many mediums claimed.

At Spiritualist seances, a popular activity was for a psychic medium to “channel” the spirit of someone who had passed on. The voice and/or accent of the medium would change to align with the personality of the deceased, and even their mannerisms and facial countenance would appear different (remember Whoopie Goldberg’s character in “Ghost” when she channeled the Patrick Swayze character?). While this activity could be exhilarating for friends and relatives witnessing the medium in action, it’s a party trick rife for fraud.

Much more perplexing (and difficult to fake) is the situation wherein a person appears to channel someone fluent in an entirely different language. This is not the same as speaking in tongues, or “glossolalia”, which is a more random vocalization common to certain religious movements. Xenoglossy is when real language emerges from someone.

Many believe that Xenoglossy is evidence that spirits can indeed be contacted from beyond by using a human vessel or channel. One medium from the Spiritualist movement, Laura Edmonds, who natively spoke English and knew just a bit of French, would converse fluently with visitors from afar in Spanish, French, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Latin, Hungarian, and Native American languages. Although Laura was doing the talking, she appeared to be channeling deceased friends of her visitors. Her father, John Worth Edmonds, was a well respected judge and initially claimed to be a skeptic. But after witnessing his daughter’s multitude of paranormal experiences, he eventually experimented with mediumship himself and became an advocate. I have to admit, if one of my trusted family members started having fluent conversations in a language they never studied, I’d probably become a quick believer, too!

Other cases of Xenoglossy suggest that it is proof of reincarnation. In some instances, the person speaks a very ancient language that has been extinct since well before the medium’s time. One such controversial case involved an English medium known as Rosemary who claimed to be controlled by an ancient Egyptian “Lady Nona”. She was reported to have used 140 different phrases common at the time the Temple of Luxor in Egypt was built, as confirmed by reputed Egyptologist Howard Hulme.

A more modern example of Xenoglossy occurred in 2007, when a Czech motorbike racer suffered a serious crash while racing in Glasgow. Although he was known to have a very limited English vocabulary, apparently while being rescued he spoke English fluently with the paramedics.

Whether Xenoglossy is truly an example of spirits from beyond crossing into our human realm, proof of reincarnation, or something else going on, it’s a phenomenon that currently defies explanation and therefore is worth examining further. And if that’s not enough for you, it’s worth 21 Scrabble points, so file that spelling in your paranormal Rolodex for your next board game night!

W Is For What’s Your Ghost Story?

Ages ago I put a very amateur documentary… it was basically a just-for-fun, home video–style presentation where some friends and I went to haunted locations across Chicago and told ghost stories while on-location. This was in 1999, several years before the first ghost hunting shows are on television. I don’t even know if the term “ghost hunting” was even a thing yet.

I had a website for my production company and I posted information about this documentary. An incredible thing happened. Somehow people found the website and began sharing their ghost stories. They commented on each other’s ghost stories. They began sharing information to help filling in gaps of knowledge about historic sites.  Soon, the web site was getting upwards of 60,000 visitors per month and was an absolute repository for all things spooky.  A community was born.  I rebranded the web site, from the production company Slim Pictures, to the call to action, WhatsYourGhostStory.com.

I learned a lesson in the process: The most important thing about what we do as storytellers and researchers is sharing information.  Amazingly, we actually solved a mystery in the process.  Like any good mystery, the more we learned, the more we were left to wonder.

In Barrington, Illinois stood a grand, abandoned house known only as “The House on Rainbow Road.”  Why are some areas inherently more haunted than others.  Not far from here is Cuba Road, White Cemetery, a haunted bridge and even a phantom train that appears at a railroad crossing.  However, the fabled House on Rainbow Road seems to top them all.

Setting the scene for how the location looked when I first visited this location in the early 2000s, a long and narrow blacktop driveway, dotted with dead light bulbs lead the way to a small but steep hill.  To the right there was a silo, doghouse, chicken coops, and a barn.  To the left was only the footprint and wreckage of the house.  It had been burned as part of a firemen’s training exercise in the late ‘90s.

Something as distressing as it is mysterious about the location is that the second floor of the barn-like building, was always cluttered with baby toys.

When the house stood, it was large and modernist in architecture.  The most curious thing is that when the owners moved on, they did so in a hurry.  The closets still contained clothes and the kitchen drawers still held silverware.

“But is wasn’t just old toys either,” Stephanie Harlan, a friend I interviewed for my book, ” Voices from the Chicago Grave,” said, “there were also newer toys on the ground.”  It seems like, for whatever reason, additional toys have since been added to the mix since the original owners left.

“Then there was the basement of the house,” Stephanie continued.  “I was there with another friend who was poking around and just looking at everything and he asked if I had ever gone into the cellar.  I told him not to do it, because I had a bad feeling about it.”

Another friend of mine, Mike Pry, had an experience all of his own on the second story of the house.  He and some friends went to the property with the goal of keeping themselves occupied for the night and to confront their fears.

Her friend opened the cellar door, “and then all I heard is, ‘Oh, my God!’  There was a huge pentagram painted on the floor, red stuff on the walls, and there were half burnt candles and animal skulls all over the place.”  Stephanie did not stick around long enough to find out whether or not the red that was smeared on the walls was blood or paint.

They started at one end of the top hall and decided to look into each and every room just to be able to say that they did it.  They devised a plan to leave the door open after looking into it as reminder that that room had already been checked.

About half way through their mission they were interrupted.

“Someone whispered my name into my ear from behind me, and I figured it was just one of my friends being a jerk and trying to scare me.  Then I realized all my friends were in front of me and I was the last one in the line.”  Mike turned to see the source of the voice, but instead found that all of the doors that they had left open were now closed except for one – the door at the very end of the hallway.

When asked if they went back to the open door to look inside, Mike replied with a very realistic answer:  “No way, we got the hell out of there!”

Some of the visual apparitions reported there include the ghost of a small boy.  Sometimes he’s seen in footie pajamas with fire trucks on them.  Sometimes he’s seen wearing blue jean overalls over a red shirt.

For years, we only knew about the ghost stories and very little of the reality of this location until one day a contributor to WhatsYourGhostStory.com posted the link to a tiny article in a 1968 edition of the Chicago Tribune that reported the death of a young boy.

How exciting!  For the first time, we have the reports of a documented death on the property and it lines up with what people are seeing, as opposed to the other way around.  People had been randomly seeing a little boys ghost and not knowing why.  They were not visiting the location thinking, “a little boy died here.  Let’s see if we can make contact with his ghost.”

In 1968 William Cokenower III was seven years old when he was climbing on a birdbath.  He ended up pulling the heavy object on to his small frame, killing him.  William lived in the guesthouse with his family with his father serving as the groundskeeper.

One day a woman named Sherry Cokenower was doing research on her family history and stumbled across my web site when searching her departed brother’s name.  She had no idea that there’s a chance that her younger brother might still be inhabiting the area.  I would’ve understood if she was upset about learning this, but instead she was absolutely fascinated.  She then started to ask her dad questions.  The answers we got were ground-breaking.  In addition to sharing with her her conversation with her dad, she even loaned us the police reports and photos taken at the scene.  Her father verified that William had the same pajamas that people have seen this ghostly child wearing and that on the day of his death he was wearing a white shirt with blue overalls.  However, as a result of the accident, it was soaked with blood.

While this story is tragic and the details chilling, it’s absolutely amazing that, with the thanks to a community sharing information and a family that was willing to share some difficult memories, we have found the true history that confirms peoples’ paranormal accounts.

V Is For Valentino: The Ghost of Hollywood’s Original Sex Symbol

I created and ran the LA Hauntings Ghost Tours where I trucked a van-load of tourists, curiosity-seekers, thrill-seekers and paranormal enthusiasts from West Hollywood, through downtown and then down Hollywood Blvd. Whether I was talking about a site we were visiting or filling the time stuck in ‘normal’ LA traffic, one name came up above all others. One might assume I would be talking about Marilyn Monroe or Charlie Chaplin, whose ghosts are reported at multiple locations, but perhaps the most well-traveled ghost I’ve ever heard of is the silent era Casanova, Rudolph Valentino.

Valentino was Hollywood’s first sex symbol. This was at a time when the concept of seeing a person move, larger than life, on screen was a new concept. The blurring of the lines between film and reality, while still tenuous where we feel we ‘know’ celebrities in some way thanks to the familiarity of seeing them repeatedly on screen, must have been even more extreme in this new era of motion pictures. That’s why his sudden and unexpected death in 1926 at the age of just 31 hit fans so hard that suicides were reported, including two girls in Japan who jumped into a volcano as a means to avoid living in a Valentino-less world. Even to this day, funeral services are held on the anniversary of his passing, some 93 years later.

With 13 of his 37 films considered ‘lost,’ we will never have a complete library of Valentino’s work, though his iconic role of the titular character of The Sheik in 1921 has transcended movie history and been the face of everything from Sheik condoms to the current mascot of Hollywood High School.

Unfortunately, Valentino’s reign as one of the top draws in all of film came to a quick end when he died in New York due to series of complications that started with punctured ulcers.

Valentino made an enormous mark on this world and this larger than life figure appears to still have more life left to experience. So, we will now take you through some of the many places Valentino still enjoys.

Though he’s so associated with Hollywood history, Valentino actually shot many of his films in New York. The Famous Players-Lasky studio commissary from the 1920s is currently open as a public restaurant called George’s. It is here that people have spied Valentino sitting at the bar, sipping martinis. The location is still a film studio, now called Kaufman Astoria Studios. This independent lot has been the long time home of Sesame Street and boasts Birdman and Orange is the New Black as some of its recent high-profile productions. If Valentino wants to stay near the action, he’s found a great place to do it!

Heading across the country to LA, Valentino found his dream home perched atop a ridge along Benedict Canyon. In 1925 he and his spiritualist costume designer wife Natacha Rambova moved into the home he would name Falcon Lair after a script that Rambova wrote, which he hoped to star in. The house looks out over Beverly Hills, but the view immediately west would’ve looked considerable different on one summer night in 1969 as the vantage point looks across Cielo Drive and into the Polanski/Tate estate where the Manson family committed one of the most famous mass murders in US history. This is irrelevant to Valentino, but fascinating to point out, nonetheless. This area is also considered a geomagnetic anomaly zone as there is unusually high amounts of EM energy emanating from the earth at this site. Those with an interest in the paranormal speculate that it’s due to all of this energy that allows for spirits to visit more easily from the other side. Perhaps this is why Valentino has been seen at this property by multiple owners and across several decades, starting immediately after his death. Caretakers were surprised to hear phantom footsteps, see door knobs turn and doors open and close by themselves. The only thing more surprising was that the normally alert dogs didn’t seem to notice or care. Perhaps to them, nothing was surprising… their owner was just walking through the house. The last person to publically acknowledge seeing the movie star was tobacco heir Doris Duke and her butler, Bernard Lefferty who saw him on multiple occasions from the 1950s through ‘80s. According to her, his appearances became less frequent as her time there drew on. She passed away in 1993 and the house itself was tragically leveled in 2006. Some remnants still exist, but the hose is essentially lost. Have later tenants experienced anything? We do not know. However, as of this writing, the home on Valentino’s property is up for sale, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed that the future homeowners will be interested in ghost hunting.

When Duke and Lefferty saw Valentino, he was wearing his horse riding attire. Just down the hill from the house stood the horse stables. Valentino’s ghost has been seen there petting and tending to living horses. One encounter was so surprising that is prompted a stable hand to quit on the spot. Though the stables are currently gone, Valentino’s ghost has still been seen in this area, sometimes accompanied by a phantom horse. Other times, it’s only the sound of a horse that’s heard.

There are stories that Valentino would ride his white horse into downtown Hollywood to drink and tango the night away at the new and swanky Knickerbocker Hotel on Ivar. Once his martini consumption became one-too-many, Valentino would get back up on his trusty steed and pass out. The well-trained horse would then walk back to Valentino’s house. How’s that for a a designated driver? It is said that Valentino can still be seen dancing the night away in the former lounge, now a Russian Restaurant. The only problem with this story is that Valentino died before this building was constructed. That said, in Chicago, we have seen the ballroom ghost Resurrection Mary relocate once her original ballroom closed down. So maybe it is possible to continue exploring new sites after death. Another unique footnote of the Knickerbocker is that this was the site of the famous Holloween night rooftop séance where Bess Houdini attempted to make contact with her late magician husband.

The other possibility is that the Knickerbocker is being confused for the nearby Hudson Apartments on Hollywood Blvd where it is rumored Valentino was involved in the operation of a speakeasy.

The corner of Hollywood and Highland is now the enormous megaplex that houses the Dolby Theter and has hosted every Academy Award ceremony since 2002. However, the location used to house a much more modest Hollywood Hotel. It is at this hotel that, after Valentino’s death, women in room 264 would report a surprise visitation and even get a phantom kiss from Valentino himself. This, or similar stories, is actually associated with a number of locations including Casa Valentino in Oxnard, CA and the Santa Maria Inn in Santa Maria, CA.

A more frightening version of the story took place in 1988 at a site that was rumored to be haunted by the Latin Lover. A woman heard someone else in the room breathing, though she knew she was alone. In moments, someone jumped into bed with her. Fearing the worst, she turned on the lights to find that she was, in fact, still alone. At this point, separated by generations, perhaps the new encounters with Valentino’s amorous ghost won’t be as welcome as they once were. This more frightening encounter, once an apartment building, is now part of the Paramount Studios complex, on 716 Valentino Pl. Since we’re talking about Paramount, it should be noted that the iconic Paramount Gates were constructed specifically to keep out Valentino’s crowds. However, he passed away before construction was complete, so they were never put to their intended use.

The legendary Musso & Frank Grill, also on Hollywood Blvd deserves its own lengthy post (if not a full feature length documentary), so, for now, I will skim over nearly all the history of this, Hollywood’s oldest restaurant, with connections to Charlie Chaplin (and his ghost), Douglas Fairbanks, Johnny Depp, Mickey Cohen, F. Scott Fitzgerald & Charles Bukowski to instead say that Valentino’s charming ghost is still on the scene, catching eyes and smiling warmly at women near the back of the restaurant.

Even Valentino’s dog, Kabar, continues to make his presence known at the Calabasas Pet Cemetery. The same cemetery that holds the remains of the MGM lion and Charlie Chaplin’s cat, visitor’s to Kabar’s grave have reported having their hands licked by a phantom dog.

And now we’re finally up to Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Valentino’s final resting. As one might expect, his funeral was an incredible affair with a procession that started in New York. Much like Abraham Lincoln’s funeral train, crowds gathered from coast to coast to watch it past, including “hundreds of cowboys and Indians” in Yuma, AZ and a horde of onlookers that broke through police lines according to the Oakland Tribune. However, the crowds had diminished by the time the funeral train reached Los Angeles. Only an estimated 200 were gathered to see the casket removed from the train in LA. The funeral was small and invite-only, however hundreds of fans lined the street for the procession from the church to the cemetery where thousands more were waiting. Flowers were dropped by an airplane over the proceedings.

Due to the shocking and sudden nature of Valentino’s death, funeral arrangements had not been made. Valentino was placed, temporarily into a crypt owned by June Mathis, who was a writer who discovered Valentino when she cast him in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. However, within a year Mathis had also died suddenly at age 40 due to a heart ailment. The plan was for Valentino to eventually be placed into a memorial designed for him. However, the high spending Valentino died in debt and the stock market crash sealed the fate. There are reports that Valentino has been seen walking from the Hollywood Forever Cemetery over to Paramount Studios next door, however, Valentino is just one of many reports of many entities making that trek back to work from the cemetery.

The tiny De Longpre Park, houses one of the monuments that was originally designed for Valentino’s memorial. There are claims of paranormal activity at this location, but that pay also be associated with two deaths that have also happened here.

While Valentino may have been struck down at the height of his popularity, it seems that death has not been the end of Rudolph Valentino’s adventures!

U Is For Unicorn: Origins Of A Mythical Creature

Despite saving the human race, Noah often gets a bad rap when it comes to the Unicorn–people blame their absence in the world on him not bringing any aboard the ark. I think this is typically done in jest, particularly by folks that don’t believe in the account of the biblical Flood, or in unicorns. Rest assured, though, the Unicorn did survive the Flood and is even mentioned in later books of the Old Testament:

God brought them [Jews] out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn.

Numbers 23:22

His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh. 

Deuteronomy 33:17

Save me from the lion’s mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.

Psalms 22:21

It should be noted that these verses are from the King James Version of the Bible–most other translations use “Wild ox”, rather than “Unicorn”. This is even more interesting—why exactly do unicorns appear in the King James Bible?

King James’ bible translation began in 1604 and was completed by 1611. But by the time of the translations commissioning, Unicorns were well-known in Europe, appearing on heraldry, while the mythical creatures’ horns (alicorns) were sold and traded, used in scepters, thrones, and ground up for medicinal purposes. Unicorns predate the King James bible by centuries–but just how far? 

Pliny, the Greek philosopher, wrote about the Unicorn: “The unicorn is the fiercest animal, and it is said that it is impossible to capture one alive. It has the body of a horse, the head of a stag, the feet of an elephant, the tail of a boar, and a single black horn three feet long in the middle of its forehead. Its cry is a deep bellow.”

In the 7th Century, the scholar Isidore of Seville described the unicorn as “very strong and pierces anything it attacks. It fights with elephants and kills them by wounding them in the belly.” He further went on to add that “The unicorn is too strong to be caught by hunters, except by a trick: If a virgin girl is placed in front of a unicorn and she bares her breast to it, all of its fierceness will cease and it will lay its head on her bosom, and thus quieted is easily caught.”

Pierces an elephant in the belly… feet like an elephant. Wait a minute…

Pop culture is not alone in its depiction of the unicorn as a sleek equine. But what if there is a more grounded reality for the creature? What if Unicorns were not only real, but considerably different than the artistic expressions usually made by people who had never seen one? What if… the unicorn is a rhinoceros?

The Indian rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) is a mono-horned version of the animal so often found in zoos today. It sports a single, white horn on its nose, rather than its forehead. And around the time Pliny described the “unicorn” in his writings, the Greeks were venturing into the Indian Rhino’s native lands…

At this point, you might be thinking “wasn’t the unicorn seen around the world—not just in India?” Well, yes and no. One-horned creatures have been described around the world, not just by the Greeks and Europeans. But that doesn’t mean they were the horny equines so often described. Other creatures can have single horns.

In 2008,  a one year old deer was discovered near Florence, Italy with only one horn—believed to be a genetic defect, as it’s twin had two horns. Could historical unicorns be mutants?

What about the fossil record? Were there ever any unicorns? As it turns out, there was once something more rhino-like, but with a more traditional mono unicorn horn in what is today Siberia: the Elasmotherium sibiricu.  Co-existing with the mammoth, it’s entirely possible carcasses of these creatures were once found and described–or maybe they survived into the modern era, as some claim the Mammoth has

And what about those unicorn horns? Where did they come from? They came from Vikings, who were accomplished sailors who often journeyed into the seas of the Narwhal, another one-horned creature that remained generally unknown until the 16th Century, allowing the trade in faux alicorns to spread far and wide, with specimens even presented to Popes and some horns remaining on display in museums into the modern era.

Whether they were mutants, monsters or just misunderstood, one thing is certain, the folklore of the unicorns will probably outlive the endangered Rhinoceros it was most likely inspired by.

245 – T Is For Terror In The Aisles: Antrum and the Deadliest Movies Never Made

If you read any of paranormal or horror movie blogs this week, you might have seen an article about a new “documentary” coming out that contains a film from the 1970s that has recently been rediscovered called Antrum. It was covered by Bloody Disgusting, Mysterious Universe, Unexplained Mysteries, and even Forbes magazine, who did the original interview with the producer Eric Thirteen.

Thirteen says that the movie was lost after a terrifying incident in a Budapest theater in 1988 and that bad things kept happening to anyone involved in the production of the film, or anyone who even watched it. Indeed the trailer even says that the film is rumored to be “haunted” or “cursed” and that you shouldn’t watch it alone, it says that it absolves the filmmakers of all liability. (Ha, let’s see that one hold up in court!)

The new release of Antrum: The Deadliest Movie Ever Made will feature a documentary with people who know the history of the production as well as have experienced some of the curse effects from watching the movie. What? You’ve definitely got my attention, so this has to be fake, right?

Of course it’s fake, producer Eric Thirteen even compares it to Lovecraft’s Necronomicon, a mystical evil spellbook that only existed in Lovecraft’s imagination. That was, until the author’s admirers created it and sold their fan fiction in book stores across the country and some people got convinced it was actually a reprinting of an ancient spellbook. He’s dropping the clues right in the interview that this is going to be a mockumentary!

COOL EPISODE UPDATE

Eric Thirteen himself listened to this episode and left a voicemail for us, which you can hear in its entirety in Episode 246 of See You On The Other Side.

Now, this movie sounds like a lot of fun and I love the cursed film angle as marketing (Zak Bagans even used it in his own documentary Demon House when he suggested that just watching his film could be dangerous and get you a spirit attachment who wouldn’t leave you alone!) But none of these blogs, who normally write about real people’s paranormal experiences bothered to let us know that it’s not a real documentary.

We just thought it was interesting, that these regular paranormal platforms wouldn’t let everyone know that this movie looks cool, but it’s just a movie. So, we wanted to handle that straightaway. This is pop culture using the paranormal as a marketing hook, because of course, that kind of buzz is great for publicity, as shown by the incredible financial success of the grandaddy of modern viral movie marketing, The Blair Witch Project. That was another fictional documentary where they tried to make the media believe it was real, and for awhile it worked just as well as Antrum is.

In this episode, we go into the similarities between the marketing campaigns of Blair Witch and Antrum, we’ll dissect Eric Thirteen’s interview with Forbes (as well as the incredulous coverage of it!), and then talk about some other fake films that used the illusion of versimiltude to get attention and sell tickets (or in our case, video rentals in the 80s!)

  • Faces of Death
  • Cannibal Holocaust (so real that the director was put on trial for murder!)
  • Alien Autopsy: Fact or Fiction?
  • Mondo Cane

And we have bring up some other great films that deal with cursed movies as well.

  • In The Mouth of Madness (itself inspired by Lovecraft)
  • Masters of Horror‘s “Cigarette Burns” (written by a staffer of Aint It Cool News, a site that led the way in the success of The Blair Witch Project)
  • The real urban legend behind The Ring

For the song this week, it was a no-brainer. Just understand that you’re listening at your own risk and we take no liability for anything that might happen to you after you hear “The Deadliest Song Ever Made”!

And of course, to go with the deadliest movie ever made, we had to write “The Deadliest Song Ever Made”. You’ve been warned, listen at your own risk because we take no responsiblity for what happens after you’ve heard it.

Now that you’ve hit play you can’t go back
you’re cursed forever once you’ve heard this track
There’s just something so evil about this tune
It makes the listeners deceased way too soon

So listen at your own risk
you’ve sealed your fate
This is the deadliest song ever made.
Don’t plug your ears,
for it’s too late.
You’ve heard the deadliest song ever made.

It’s the world’s most fearsome melody,
just the sound of it will end your life early.
We’re not saying anything legally,
but you’re damned to Hell for all eternity.

So listen at your own risk
you’ve sealed your fate
This is the deadliest song ever made.
Don’t plug your ears,
for it’s too late.
You’ve heard the deadliest song ever made.

S Is For Sea Serpent: Ogopogo, Champ, Caddy, and Storsie

if you’ve ever passed a moving body of water and seen something, barely sticking from the surface, you’ve probably had a fleeting moment of wondering Could that be a monster–like Nessie? Odds are, what you saw turned out to be a stick, a turtle, or even a snake–or maybe just some garbage. After all, Nessie is just from Scotland, right? There aren’t any other sea/lake monsters, are there?

Not surprisingly, there are. Some scoff at this notion and say that swells on the surface of a body of water are caused by underwater currents, or that stationary objects, like submerged trees, create the illusion of something swimming, when really it’s just water flowing around the object. They say that this optical illusion causes us to fill in the gaps and imagine a monster.

Others argue differently. They say there are undiscovered, aquatic cryptids around the world. They have photos, witness accounts and even videos of these alleged creatures. Aquatic monsters are everywhere, it seems.

Ogopogo hails from Canada–Okanagan Lake, to be specific, in British Columbia. It has allegedly been seen by natives since the 1800s, and is described as a 40-50 foot sea serpent, like the Mosasaurus.

In 1946, thirty carloads of people reported seeing the creature from Okanagan Mission beach. In 1968, the creature (or, at least, it’s wake) was filmed moving across the lake. In 2011, Ogopogo was captured–on cell phone video

This isn’t the Americas’ only swimming cryptid, by the way. Champ and Caddy are two more cryptids reported in North America. Champ hails from Lake Champlain, which is near Quebec, New York, and Vermont. Sightings go back to before 1609, when the first European settler (Samuel de Champlain) reported the cryptid, describing it as “20-foot serpent thick as a barrel, and a head like a horse”.

On the other side of the continent, back in the Pacific Northwest, Ogopogo’s cousin, Caddy (short for Cadborosaurus) has been sighted in Cadboro Bay, British Columbia for more than 200 years. Like Nessie and Ogopogo, Caddy too has purportedly been photographed and filmed, and is reported to resemble a “huge sea serpent with a horse-like head”.

Leaving America, and crossing back to Europe, one needn’t return to some of the other Lochs in Scotland to search for lake monsters (although several other Lochs also claim to have them). Instead, you could journey to Sweden in search of Storsjöodjuret, a lake serpent seen in Lake Storsjön in Jämtland, and described as looking like a serpentine or aquatic reptile with fins across its back and the head of a dog.

If you strike out in Sweden, fear not, a quick trip to Norway could put you on the track of Selma, a large, snake-like creature believed to reside in Lake Seljord in Seljord, Telemark, Norway. If you aren’t sure what you’re looking for, fear not, Selma appears on the coat of arms of Seljord.

There are many, many more alleged aquatic beasts around the world. Until 2016, you could go to Vietnam and would probably catch a glimpse of such a beast–Cụ Rùa (“great grandfather turtle”), a giant, soft shell turtle of the species Rafetus leloii, which resided in Hoàn Kiếm Lake in Hanoi, Vietnam. There are also countless of tales of giant fish seen as monsters–like the rumored man-sized catfish of Lake Cumberland, Kentucky, or Alaska’s Iliamna Lake Monster, Illie.

It seems that wherever there’s a body of water, there be monsters. Remember that the next time you go swimming and aren’t sure just what that is in the water, just below the surface, heading towards you…

ROC, ROPEN, SCISSORS: TERRORS OF THE SKY

Roc, Ropen, Scissors: Terrors of the Skies

Look! Up in the Sky! It’s a bird… It’s a plane… it’s a… cryptid?

Monsters are not just confined to the woods and water. As it turns out, there are a variety of Fortean folktales about giant flying creatures that can swoop down and pluck helpless mortals off their feet and carry them off to unimaginably horrible demises. Here in the U.S., these days Mothman grabs all the headlines, but it wasn’t always so. In fact, if you counted up legends and sightings, he’d easily be dethroned from his pop culture throne by the true reigning champion of aeronautical cryptozoology: the Thunderbird.

Thunderbirds have been sighted all across the United States and North America, long before Europeans fled religious persecution in their homelands and settled here. The native tribes had many legends of these giant birds, and many descriptions as well.

If you read the blog earlier this month, you might have caught mention of winged reptiles swooping down on the surprised citizens of the Southwest in the 1970s. And then there was the tale of a young man in Illinois who was nearly carried off by a strange bird of enormous proportions, much like a scene from the movie “The Valley of Gwanji”. But there’s more to the Thunderbird and its winged cousins around the world than some amazing cinematic stop animation. Nor does the Thunderbird rule its skies—other flying creatures have struck terror into the hearts and minds of the Earthbound, all around our globe:

The Roc is a legendary winged beast from Africa and the Middle East, reported in some instances to be large enough to carry away elephants.

The Ropen is a modern day, extant dino-bird, hailing from Southeast Asia, with reports still surfacing to this day.

Here in the U.S., Illinois was once home to a legendary, chimera-like creature called the Piasa that was described as being as large as a calf with horns on their heads like a deer, a beard like a tiger’s, a face somewhat like a man’s, a body covered with scales, and a long fish’s tail.

But by far, the widest reported of all the sky terrors was an enormous bird with a wingspan far surpassing that of any vulture or condor—a black-feather avian powerful enough to lift a small child.

Before we scoff at a report like this, we need to examine whether or not it’s even possible for a feather bird to be big enough to carry a small human. Condors and Turkey vultures are definitely big enough to carry away squirrels and even small house cats, but they have a wingspan that just isn’t wide enough to hoist anything bigger than that.

That wasn’t always the case, though. Turning to the fossil record, scientists have theorized a bird that would make even the inhabitants of Sesame Street shake in terror: Argentavis magnificens. Discovered in Argentina, this giant raptor was estimated to have a wingspan up to twenty-four feet wide. How much could such a beast lift up into the sky? That is debatable, as some scientists have speculated the avian’s own weight may have forced it to run into strong winds to even get aloft. But, if we consider that the Osprey, with a wingspan of up to 26 inches can pluck a fish weighing as much as 10 ounces from the water, it isn’t that much of a stretch to consider that the Argentavis could lift something considerably larger.

If Argentavis doesn’t fit the bill, there was one other bird even larger: Pelagornis sandersi, with a wingspan of up to twenty-four feet and a head that looked more dino than dodo.

Now that we know it was at least once possible for a bird to be big enough to grab a boy, we should look for other accounts of it happening. And, terrifyingly, there are.

Reports may be few and far between less horrible bird stories, but there are tales of Stellar Sea Eagles (with only 8 foot wingspans) attacking children and carrying off small dogs. The Golden Eagle (with a slightly smaller wingspan) is also reported to have attacked children, as in this video from Kyrgyzstan

The girl attacked wasn’t carried off, or harmed all that much, but the point here is that yes, large birds will attack people—and their pets.

Years ago, I read two accounts of Eagles actually attacking children. I can’t find them now, but the first involved a Stellar Sea Eagle attacking a small child, while the second was a report of Eagles plucking babies from the huts of their parents in Africa and killing and eating them.

Sound preposterous? Not really, when you consider that a small deer can be the same size as a baby, and there’s video of Eagles flying one back to their nest and eating it:

But don’t think that means the Thunderbird (so called for the sound it’s wings make, or in some tales it’s ability to summon thunderstorms) doesn’t have a hankering for longpig.

While the Piasa of Illini Indian legends doesn’t look much like an Eagle, it was reported to prefer a Manwich over Bambi. As the legend goes, the Illini unsuccessfully tried to kill the creature, until the Great Spirit appeared in a vision to the chief Ouatoga, telling him how to kill the monster. The chief stood in a clearing, as bait, then twenty of his warriors hid and waited. When the Piasa swooped down to eat Ouatoga, it was instead riddled with poison arrows. In today’s modern age of firearms, the Piasa definitely wouldn’t stand much of a chance, nor would its fellow sky-terror, the Thunderbird.

So, where are all the Thunderbirds? Some have suggested the beasts preyed on the buffalo before it was hunted to near-extinction. Of course, they might still be here, dining on all those missing pets we hear about regularly. Looking up, into the sky, with nothing to judge its size against, it would be hard to distinguish a massive bird from just a large one—unless you happened to be flying alongside it.

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