All posts by Mike Huberty

Co-Host of See You On The Other Side podcast Lead Vocalist & Bassist for Sunspot

256 – Conspiracy Theories: From Sword Of Trust to The Moon Landing

The new film Sword of Trust features a deep-dive into a fictional conspiracy theory that the South actually won the Civil War. Directed by mumblecore veteran Lynn Shelton and starring everyone’s favorite curmudgeon Marc Maron, Sword of Trust is a comedy about a couple who inherit a Confederate sword that actually proves the South won the war and their journey into tinfoil hat-land to sell the sword to the highest bidder.

Our colleague Scott Markus from What’s Your Ghost Story.com got to work the Sword of Trust red carpet at the film’s premiere at SXSW this year for the International Screenwriters’ Association and he asked the cast and crew (including director Lynn Shelton and lead Marc Maron) about what their favorite conspiracy theory was for this episode.

In addition to that fun segment, Scott joins Wendy and I for a discussion of our favorite conspiracy theories. Because of course, July 20th 2019 was the 50th anniversary of the landing on the moon and the idea that we faked it because we needed a big propaganda win at the end of the 60s continues to this day. Who doesn’t love this video of Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin punching A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Moon filmmaker Bart Sibrel…

In addition to discussing the movie and the moon landing conspiracy theories, here are some of the other topics we talk about:

Because Sword of Trust features a Civil War conspiracy theory, we wanted to record a song that was popular during the era. Released in 1861, you could hear “Aura Lee” on any night around army campfires on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line. You might recognize the melody because it was repurposed for Elvis’ classic, “Love Me Tender”.

As the blackbird in the spring, ‘neath the willow tree,
Sat and piped, I heard him sing; sing of Aura Lee.
Aura Lee, Aura Lee, maid with golden hair
Sunshine came along with thee, and swallows in the air.

In thy blush the rose was born, music when you spake.
Through thine azure eye, the morn, sparkling seemed to break.
Aura Lee, Aura Lee, birds of crimson wing
Never song have sung to me as in that night, sweet spring.

Aura Lee, the bird may flee the willow’s golden hair
Swing through winter fitfully, on the stormy air.
Yet if thy blue eyes I see, gloom will soon depart.
For to me, sweet Aura Lee is sunshine through the heart.

When the mistletoe was green, midst the winter’s snows
Sunshine in thy face was seen kissing lips of rose.

Aura Lee, Aura Lee, take my golden ring.
Love and light return with thee,
and swallows with the spring.
Aura Lee, Aura Lee, take my golden ring.
Love and light return with thee,
and swallows with the spring.

253 – Haunchyville: Wisconsin’s Miniature Murderers

I grew up in a tiny town called Big Bend on the outskirts of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. While we could get to the city in less than a half an hour, it was also incredibly rural with half my fellow classmates living on farms and the rest families who had left Milwaukee proper in the migration out of the Rust Belt cities that happened in the 60s and 70s.

One of my favorite things to do was to go our for what we used to call “Fright Nights”, which is find abandoned places that had urban legends associated with them and check them out. One of my friends who often came out on Fright Nights worked in the little hamlet of Muskego, Wisconsin at a Supper Club. Muskego was only a few minutes away from Big Bend towards Milwaukee, we passed through it all the time just to go get groceries. So when he told me about a supposed village of little people that are bent on revenge, I was like “how have I never heard this story before?!” and “When are we going?!”

His workmates who went to Muskego High School told him about the legend of Haunchyville. And here’s the story as it was told to me:

Near the end of Mystic Drive in Muskego is a barn where a farmer hanged himself. Underneath the body, in the dirt, you could see many child-sized footprints all around where he was hanging. On the wall there was a message written in his own blood that said “The Haunchies made me do it. The Haunchies made me do it.” If you go down to the end of Mystic Drive, you can still see the barn and sometimes people report the phantom of a hanging body at night. And as you go down the road, you’ll see houses with small doorways and the stop signs are at a much smaller height.

The Legend of The Haunchies

What?! Of course, I wanted to check that out, so we picked a night and went out to Haunchyville to find out what we could see. It was a hot night and we parked our car before we got to the No Trespassing sign and just started walking down the road and it was mostly just an empty field. We did see a few signs that maybe were lower than normal, but nothing special and some backyard shacks, but no hanging ghost body!

As we got farther down the road, we heard a powerful scream that sounded like a gigantic bird. And that was it for me, I ran back, abandoning my friends and being a gigantic wussy for which I was mercilessly ridiculed by my friends for awhile afterwards (sigh, I deserved it!)

But we weren’t the only people who ventured down Mystic Road to Haunchyville, on the hunt for a paranormal experience (I really wanted to see the hanging body more than I wanted to see any murderous little people!) In fact, it was a popular Milwaukee area legend that started in the 1950s. And it was more than the colony of little people, there was the idea that:

  • They were former circus sideshow dwarves that murdered the ringmaster
  • They would attack you with burning torches
  • They would saw off your legs at the knees and make you live with them
  • They had a full-size protector who was an albino(!) that would fire off shotgun warnings to make you leave the land
  • The legend was invented as a front for a distillery/liquor operation during the 1920s

In this episode, we discuss the various aspects of the urban legend, as well as similiar legends throughout the United States (we tackled San Antonio’s Midget Mansion in a previous episode on location in Texas!) as well as some other Wisconsin cases with witnesses who actually claim they’ve seen groups of little people doing mysterious things.

For the song this week, what else could we call it? Let Sunspot take you to “Haunchyville”!

Going down the old farm road
and you’re not alone
there’s something in the cornfield
Are you fast enough to outrun
an albino with a shotgun
He’s got a secret he ain’t gonna reveal

watch out for the little guys
they’ll cut you down to size
you don’t want to pursue it
the haunchies made me do it
Trespass on Mystic Drive
now you’re playing with your life
no one will hear your cries
When they drag you straight to Hell
don’t go down to Haunchyville

You should have stayed away
and now their debt has been repaid
a trail of tiny footprints left in the mud
You might hear their evil laughter
when you’re hanging from the rafters
there’s a message for you written in blood

watch out for the little guys
they’ll cut you down to size
you don’t want to pursue it
the haunchies made me do it
Trespass on Mystic Drive
now you’re playing with your life
no one will hear your cries
When they drag you straight to Hell
watch out for the little guys
they’ll cut you down to size
you don’t want to pursue it
the haunchies made me do it
Trespass on Mystic Drive
now you’re playing with your life
no one will hear your cries
When they drag you straight to Hell
don’t go down to Haunchyville
don’t go down to Haunchyville
don’t go down to Haunchyville
When they drag you straight to Hell
don’t go down to Haunchyville

251 – Ain’t Never Had A Friend Like Me: Aladdin and the Truth About The Djinn

In Disney’s race to re-monetize every single piece of their intellectual property, they’re recreating their best animated films as live-action movies. They’ve already done Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, The Jungle Book, and Dumbo and used their unlimited checkbook to snag directors like Kenneth Branagh and Tim Burton to do it. They’ve finally come to the only Disney film that I actually liked (I know, I’m a total hater), Aladdin and they somehow thought that the director of the wonderful London petty crime drama, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels would be perfect for a story about a Middle Eastern orphan who meets Wil Smith, the magic genie.

Welcome to Earf!

Much of the discussion about the film is related to how Will Smith is going to fill Robin Williams’ shoes in a role that was specifically made for the deceased comedian, or the original pictures of Will Smith in blue made him look kinda silly, but now that the film hit Number One at the box office and made hundreds of millions of dollars, no one’s really making fun of it anymore. Which means we should probably get to the real issue: genies aren’t friendly magical wish-granting buddies who are charming like Robin Williams or sexy like Barbara Eden, their history is much darker as a race of beings known as the Djinn.

The Djinn are mentioned in the Koran as beings made of “smokeless fire” who were created before humankind. They have Free Will just like humans and when God created humans, he asked the Djinn to be subservient to us. The Djinn, specifically the most powerful among them, Iblis, said “Hell No!” and they took off to their own dimension where they live alongside us only to come into our lives and mess with our affairs.

Now, we’ve talked before about the Yazidi, who believe that Iblis eventually got back in God’s good graces, but in traditional Islamic folklore, he’s the most powerful and evil of the Djinn and he’s plotting humanity’s downfall. But he’s not the only one, there’s an entire hierarchy and variety of Djinn that we talk about in this episode.

In a previous episode, we also talked about how King Solomon used what medieval Biblical scholars considered demons to build the first temple of Jerusalem), but the Koran says, nope, it was the Djinn.

We also get into more about The Thousand And One Arabian Nights where the story of Aladdin came from (hint: it’s not an ancient Middle Eastern tale) and how that book first brought to the Western World by a Frenchman in the early Eighteenth Century basically shaped our ideas about the djinn for the past several centuries.

Much like demons, the story is that the Djinn can possess humans and cases aren’t just limited to the Arabic-speaking world, there’s lots of cases in the United Kingdom) and sometimes they don’t just want to possess your soul and make you burn in Hell with the Devil, it’s because they’ve fallen in love with you!

Some of the names of Djinn are the same as the different gods in pre-Islamic Pagan religions in the Middle East, like Baal who was the Canaanite god of fertility or Pazuzu, the Mesopotamian lord of the wind, who would eventually be used to great effect as the demon who possesses Regan McNeil in The Exorcist.

So Christianity and Islam are much alike in the way that as they spread throughout their various continents, Christianity through Europe and Islam through the Middle East, they took the original gods of the people they were converting and turned them into supernatural enemies of the one true God. And you can’t really argue with the logic, it’s a great way to cement the belief of the people you’re trying to assimilate. Don’t tell them that they’re gods are bullSh!t but tell them that their gods are real, however they’ve been tricked into believing the gods are good when they’re actually evil.

So the Djinn become a catch-all for any kind of paranormal activity in Islamic culture, from rocks being thrown out of nowhere (classic Poltergeist activity) to spirit possession to weird things happening around the house like manifestations that we would consider ghostly activity. And it all works because the Djinn are right there in the theology. They’re listed in the holy book, so

I made fun of Rosemary Ellen Guiley when she was on her Djinn kick a few years back,  because she seemed to put everything on the Djinn, from Shadow People to alien abductions. I thought it was goofy, but in the format of Islam, that’s completely accurate.

It’s not part of the Koran that dead people come back as ghosts, but the Djinn are, and they’re shapeshifters that can take the form of our dead relatives. Of course, you use Djinn to explain the paranormal or when you see something weird.

It’s like when we connect faerie lore with alien abduction and poltergeist activity or Bigfoot to accounts of high strangeness. Yes, faeries ain’t like Tinkerbell, and Djinn aren’t like Barbara Eden (which breaks my heart), they’re part of something much stranger. The Djinn are just another way that us humans are trying to explain our relationship with events that we cannot find a terrestrial explanation for.

For the song this week, let Wendy and I show you “A Whole New World”!

250 – How To Be A Paranormal Detective: An Interview With Greg Lawson

After serving in the US Army, Navy, and Air Force (I guess the Marines weren’t recruting that day!) Greg Lawson became a Sheriff’s Deputy and Mental Health Officer near Austin, Texas and has now been in law enforcement for almost three decades. In that time, he’s also pursued his interest in paranormal research, dabbled in acting, music, and has written several books, fiction and non-fiction on supernatural topics.

His new book is called How To Be A Paranormal Detective and it’s a how-to book hoping to help would be Mulders and Scullys in using the same skills he learned in trying to find the truth behind crimes to try and get the best evidence possible of paranormal activity.

Greg looking like a badass

In this interview we cover:

  • Some of Greg’s most peculiar cases
  • How he investigates a haunted place (lots to learn from this one!)
  • The importance of finding the terrestrial explanations first before jumping to paranormal conclusions
  • His work interviewing Roswell witnesses

The story from the interview that most affected me was the one Greg tells from his Pizza Hut Assistant Manager days about his employee that had a seizure right after saying “They’re here…” (you’ll love that one!) It’s fascinating and terrifying and we used that energy as inspiration for this episode’s song, “The Captured Soul”.

They’re here
they appear
they feed
on fear
and what they say you don’t need ears to hear

You’re beamed
to a dream
you’re frozen and can’t scream
your consciousness outside the atmosphere

There’s no escaping
hallucinating
you can’t run
from your fate
inside your mind

A prisoner locked in
trapped and forgotten
the captured soul
with a body left behind

You can feel
the unreal
your brain a spinning wheel
you know they’re there but you can’t reveal

Immobilized
Paralyzed
Delusional and hypnotized
There’s no one you can beg, none to appeal

There’s no escaping
hallucinating
you can’t run
from your fate
inside your mind

A prisoner locked in
trapped and forgotten
the captured soul
with a body left behind

249 – The Flying Saucer Physicist: Remembering Stanton Friedman

The Betty and Barney Hill alien abduction. The Roswell UFO crash. The Majestic-12 documents. These are some of the biggest bombshells in UFOlogy and they all share one common denominator at their core. Stanton Friedman was involved.

Graduating with his degree in nuclear physics in 1955, Friedman worked at companies like General Electric and McDonell-Douglas in their jet propulsion laboratories before his interest in UFOs sparked him to delve full time into the field in 1970. From then on, he wrote several books on the subject and gave hundreds of lectures around the world.

You might have seen Stanton Friedman in a UFO documentary, you might have seen him on Nightline, you might have seen him on the Travel or History Channel in one of their hundreds of UFO documentaries. The thing is, if you’re into the UFO Phenomenon, you’ve seen him! I had my fanboy moment at the Michigan Paranormal Conference and I was just walking through the vendor room and I saw him sitting quietly at a booth just making small talk with an admirer. I hadn’t read the entire schedule yet so I didn’t know that he was going to be there, and from that moment I knew I had to make sure to see his presentation.

Allison and Stanton at the 2017 Michigan Paranormal Conference

And it was exactly as I’d hoped it would be. It was a professorial lecture and it was straight up nuts-and-bolts old school extraterrestrial hypothesis aliens are piloting UFOs and the government is covering it up. Stanton Friedman was the man who first did the heavy duty research into the Roswell flying saucer crash which is now the most famous UFO event of all.

In his 1997 article, “The UFO Challenge”, Friedman said there were four major conclusions that he’d reached after decades of UFO research:

“The evidence is overwhelming that Planet Earth is being visited by intelligently controlled extraterrestrial spacecraft. In other words, SOME UFOs are alien spacecraft. Most are not.”

“The subject of flying saucers represents a kind of Cosmic Watergate, meaning that some few people in major governments have known since July, 1947, when two crashed saucers and several alien bodies were recovered in New Mexico, that indeed SOME UFOs are ET. As noted in 1950, it’s the most classified U.S. topic.

“None of the arguments made against conclusions One and Two by a small group of debunkers such as Carl Sagan, my University of Chicago classmate for three years, can stand up to careful scrutiny.”

“The Flying Saucer story is the biggest story of the millennium: visits to Planet Earth by aliens and the U.S. government’s cover-up of the best data (the bodies and wreckage) for over fifty years.”

Stanton Friedman, “The UFO Challenge”

Those were the tenets that he stood by and he argued with debunkers, clashed with other UFOlogists, defended his research from live events to TV shows, and stuck by his guns until the very end. Stanton Friedman passed away on May 20th, 2019 at the age of 84 and he remains a giant in the field of UFOlogy and highly respected by the people who knew him.

And to remember him, for today’s episode we’re bringing in Stanton’s friend and fellow Roswell researcher Don Schmitt, who co-authored The Truth About The UFO Crash At Roswell which became the basis for the 1994 Showtime film, as well as investigative researcher and Illinois MUFON director, Sam Maranto, who was directly influenced and inspired by Friedman’s work.

Don’s latest book (coming out June 1st) is a updated version of UFO Secrets Inside Wright-Patterson: Eyewitness Accounts from the Real Area 51 and it features a foreword written by Mr. Friedman, the last thing he published before he passed away.

Stanton Friedman will also be remembered at this year’s Roswell UFO Festival, where he served as an advisor to the museum and festival, along with Don.

A phrase that we struck on in the podcast was “UFOG”… The Unidentified Flying Original Gangsta. Stanton Friedman was one of the earliest scientists who took the UFO phenomena seriously back when it wasn’t cool to be on the side of the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis. He debated the debunkers in worldwide forums long before the History Channel or Tom DeLonge made flying saucers culturally hip. He listened and validated the experiences of abductees before the rest of the community took them seriously. His bravery in taking the plunge is an inspiration to everyone of us who seeks the truth and this song is dedicated to him. Here is Sunspot with “UFOGs”.

Someone had to light the candle
someone had to fire the torch
someone had to lead the way

someone had to forge on forward
someone had to stay the course
someone had to be brave

hey these UFOGs
weren’t afraid to take the blame
hey these UFOGs
the truth was more important than their name

So when can’t take anymore
and your heart is on the floor
You can stand your ground
on the shoulders of the ones who came before

threats and disinformation
coverups and lies
we have to stay unafraid

we look to them for inspiration
to keep our eyes on the skies
now it’s up to us to take the reins.

hey these UFOGs
weren’t afraid to take the blame
hey these UFOGs
the truth was more important than their name

So when can’t take anymore
and your heart is on the floor
You can stand your ground
on the shoulders of the ones who came before

248 – Snatchers: Invasion of the Alien-Human Hybrids

Humans didn’t come with an instruction manual. We have only a few natural instincts. Reproduction is one of the only things in the universe that we don’t have to convince ourselves to do, the desire is there constantly. And in human society, is nothing as sacred or sensitive as children. We are hardwired to think irrationally about them. We are evolved to protect them at almost any cost. The sound of a child in danger is a biological air raid siren. Ask any person what the most important thing in the world to them and if they have children, it’s them. If they don’t, it’s family. People that would say something different are considered sociopaths.

And that’s okay, by valuing familial bonds above everything else is how we survived when we weren’t as fast as the tiger or as strong as the bear. But while we consider our reproduction to be sacrosanct, we freely interfere with the reproduction of other animals. We purposefully breed horses with donkeys to create pack animals, we regularly inseminate cows with the strongest bulls we can find, we have been mixing seeds and crops with each other since the dawn of agriculture (GMOs are a lot older than you think.). It’s how we came to dominate the planet.

But our planet is all we dominate and it’s a big universe. And just like cows can’t stop us from pumping some strange bull’s semen into them, we would be powerless to stop aliens with superior technology from violating our reproductive systems. It’s terrifying and it plays against three of our biggest fears, the violation of our personal bodies, the desire to protect our children, and the realization that we are impotent against the greater power of the universe.

From Mr. Spock to Counselor Troi in Star Trek to Evie in Out Of This World, or even Peter Quill The StarLord in Guardians Of The Galaxy the idea of a half-human, half-alien has been popular in science fiction. (Indeed, they tried to even make Doctor Who half-human in the 1996 TV movie.) But while that’s all fun and games and leads to psychic powers or the ability to freeze time, in the real world, cases of alien-human hybrids are far more terrifying.

Just this year, Korean lecturer Dr Young-hae Chi, who teaches at Oxford’s Oriental Institute, said “The primary purpose of abduction is to produce hybrids – human-alien hybrids – and the second one is the primary purpose of the hybrid project to colonise the Earth.” He just released a book called Alien Visitations and the End of Humanity.

The idea that aliens might be abducting women to impregnate them, use their eggs to create alien-human hybrids, and then releasing the hybrids into the world to eventually prepare us for First Contact (after all, if the children are half-human and they’re already here, how can we not accept them?) or to seed the population for an eventual alien takeover (if they are already here, then they can infiltrate positions of power in government and influence in society) became popular in the 1990s through the writings of Dr. David M. Jacobs.

Jacobs (a Wisconsin Badger, class of 1973, his dissertation was even published as The UFO Controversy in America, so let’s go Red!) founded the International Center for Abduction Research after interviewing thousands of abductees and regressing them hypnotically to remember their abductions. They all tended to follow a similar pattern, particularly the women’s experiences.

Jacobs is a doctor of history not medicine or psychology. So is there an Experimenter Effect on these reports? Carl Sagan thought so, but Jacobs stands by his story. In this episode, we talk about some of the history of alien-human hybrid theories and just what these theoretical aliens might be after before we get to something a little more lighthearted for the second half.

Snatchers is a horror-comedy about a Sara, a high school girl who has sex for the first time and wakes up 24 hours later fully pregnant with an alien-baby. It was an official selection for the 2019 SXSW Film Festival and we interviewed the writers, Stephen Cedars, Benji Kleiman, and Scott Yacyshyn (collectively known as the Old Money Boyz) behind the idea. The interview was in a bar in Austin at the premiere party for the movie, so you’ll have to excuse us as we pass the microphone around and suck on some fine Texas beers, but it’s fun to hear about their influences in the creation of the show.

The high school vibes from Snatchers were flowing through us as we were working on this episode’s song so we were feeling pretty emo. Here’s the Sunspot track “Hybrid”.

It’s a violation
of our very race
they sneak into our lives in the dead of night
It’s a breeding program
designed to replace
So are we going to go without a fight?

Too late for the arrival
A matter of survival

Should sins of the fathers
punish the progeny
where do you think their home is?
where do you think their home is?
How do you stand against the flood of destiny
where do you think their home is?
where do you think their home is?

These hidden hybrids
A sleeper cell
A secret colonization
It’s far too late now
how can we repel
Welcome to the new occupation

Too late for the arrival
A matter of survival

Should sins of the fathers
punish the progeny
where do you think their home is?
where do you think their home is?
How do you stand against the flood of destiny
where do you think their home is?
where do you think their home is?

247 – Hunting An Enigma: The Lake Monsters Of Ireland

Everyone knows about the Loch Ness Monster, everybody has heard about the Sasquatch. Nessie and Bigfoot are the two most famous cryptids in the world. Even most Forteans have heard of Champ, the sea serpent that is said to roam the waters of Lake Champlain between Vermont and Quebec, first seen in the New World in 1609. But most people have never heard of the Master Otter, who’s been seen a lot more recently than that.

What, you say? What’s a Master Otter? Well, it’s only the biggest and baddest river mammal around. And it’s deadly even, it’s said to have killed an Irish woman in the Seventeen Century and her gravestone still bears a picture of the beast. When’s the last time Bigfoot killed anyone, huh?

On the west coast of Ireland in Galway county, in the Connemara region of Ireland, there are many shallow lakes dotting the countryside. It’s a small community of only 32,000 people, but it’s an area that is heavily steeped in traditional Irish history. In fact Gaelic is still spoken in the schools there and it contains the most Irish speakers per capita on the entire island.

And in those shallow lakes, people have long seen monsters with many reports from the 1960s, 1980s, and beyond. Monster hunter Travis Wolfe has had a lifelong interest in cryptozoology and realized that the strange water cryptids of Ireland remain unheralded in modern investigation. He decided he wanted to change all that and called our very own Allison Jornlin, an intrepid monster hunter herself (her research into the Chicago Mothman sightings remains unparalleled) to help with uncovering more of these mysterious creatures.

Travis Wolfe

Two of the main beasties that have been sighted in the Connemara region are the Dobhar-chú , which is the Gaelic word for the Master Otter and the Peiste or the Horse Eel. The Dobhar-chú is often described as a half dog/half fish creature, while the Horse Eel is pretty much exactly what you’re imagining in your brain right now, a horse shaped head and mare with a long (up to 30 feet!) eel body behind.

In fact, the horse eel was a modest cryptozoological sensation in Ireland in the 1960s, here you can find several news reports from Irish television as they interviewed witnesses and covered the various sightings through the decade and beyond:

Travis and Allison have spent a good deal of time studying the evidence and the sightings of these creatures from the Emerald Isle and that’s what we talk about in this episode. But they’re also formulating a plan to get on location and investigate these loughs directly and make a documentary about it. The documentary is called Enigma and they have an Indiegogo campaign to fund the investigation and documentary. With plans for drones, remote control submarines, infrared detection, and more, it’s going to be a full investigation to get real visual proof of either the giant Master Otter or the infamous Horse Eel.

Click here to check out the Indiegogo Campaign for Enigma and discover how you can help in this fascinating investigation into Irish cryptids!

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

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.

Q Is For Queen: The Ghost Of Freddie Mercury

Queen is once again one of the hottest bands around, 28 years after their beloved singer died, thanks to the amazing popularity of the biopic of Freddie Mercury, Bohemian Rhapsody, as well as an Academy Award for Best Actor for the movie’s star, Rami Malek.

Even though Queen was already seemingly out of vogue by the time I started getting into music, the second tape I ever had was Queen’s Greatest Hits and at 13 years old, it blew my mind. Freddie passed away the November I was a freshman in high school and that brought attention back to the band enough where the deejay let me request “Bohemian Rhapsody” at our dances. Of course, we’d slow dance with our girlfriends to the mellow parts and then rock the f#$% out to the big riff when it came in. When Wayne’s World came out only a few months later and the everybody was headbanging in the car, it felt like it was a window into my teenage experience. That’s when I realized how universal the appeal of Queen really was.

“Bohemian Rhapsody” was always too hard to cover, so we just stuck with the easy ones, like “We Will Rock You” and “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”, but they always had a place in my playlist. And still do, here’s a picture of Wendy and Scott from What’s Your Ghost Story at SXSW 2019 where we were partying to a Queen tribute band at the Good Omens launch party. The bald guy is the singer and he was an incredible performer. That dude had balls and we all knew it, because we could see them outlined in his full unitard!

That singer was fearless, and that’s what Freddie could inspire you to be, because as a frontman and a songwriter, he was as bold and audacious as they come. He made the line “I want to ride my bicycle” sound badass, he makes tough guys sing along to “Aw, you’re my best friend” and still think it’s cool! He could bounce from jazz to hard rock to opera in a song and it all felt natural. Not only was he an incredible guiding light for me but for millions around the world, and you can tell how deep is effect was, because people have been seeing his ghost now for decades.

Just in March of 2019, a listener to 97x, a Classic Rock station in the Quad Cities claimed that he captured a picture of Freddie Mercury’s ghost high above the stage at a Queen tribute concert in Moline, Illinois. Now it’s obviously just the way the lights are interacting with the fog machine and it looks like one of those images where people see Jesus with the sun peeking through the clouds, but it’s still pretty fun once you see it.

ghost of Freddie Mercury
Is this Freddie singing along?

Someone posted in the Unexplained Mysteries discussion forum that Freddie visited them while they were listening to “Bohemian Rhapsody”, the best part is how he describes what the singer was wearing.

I was listening to “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen last night and the visage of Freddy Mercury coalesced into cohesion right there in my living room!

he was wearing these snappy red leather chaps and and knee high motorcycle boots! 

I said “Freddy what are you doing in my living room?” and he just snapped both fingers and vanished before my eyes!

outpatient777 – April 16th, 2009

Now the next line he asks, “Am I schizophrenic?” so it’s probably just a silly troll post, but this was a long time before Bohemian Rhapsody came out as a movie. However, they’ve never stopped playing Queen songs on Classic Rock radio, so those songs are never too far from our imagination.

Freddie also visited Jennifer Bennett, a California girl raised in the 70s, she woke up a couple of days after the 22nd anniversary of his death with the lyrics of “Bohemian Rhapsody” stuck in her head, and what she says was his energy. She says:

Freddie and I have never been particularly close so his presence was curious.  I was a bit embarrassed to to have felt visited by him, or at least visited by the energy that he embodies.  Freddie Mercury – bold, brazen, impressive, self assured, diva.  It felt as if I have something to learn from him.  And, of course, to hear Bohemian Rhapsody as if it was plugged directly into my brain…  Jeez.  The power ballad that puts all others power ballads to shame.  Yet, it was only the first 3 lines I heard this morning, over and over.

The Ghost of Freddie Mercury“, Frame A Mind blog

She talks about how she admired him for his brash fearlessness and how she felt emboldened by his energy. Was it Freddie flitting in and out of her dreams, coming to her with a message that she needed to hear?

This album cover was also the inspiration for Guns n’ Roses original cover for Appetite for Destruction

But while Mr. Fahrenheit might have visited Jennifer Bennett once in the morning, his ghost spent much more time with Christine Burgess. The Decemeber 15th, 1996 News Of The World (a tabloid newspaper that Queen named an album after!) features a story about how Christine said she started an affair with the ghost of Freddie Mercury shortly after his death.

Christine’s husband was said to be frustrated that Christine kept comparing him to Freddy, who he called “Mr. Perfect”. But poor Stuart also insisted that his wife was “mentally unstable” and that seemed to be proven true, because Christine would show up at the home of Mary Austin, Freddie’s sometime lover and longtime companion. Burgess said that she deserved to move into the home, which was left to Austin by Mercury, because “she and Freddie were lovers in a former life.” It wasn’t just Mary, but she hounded Queen guitarist, Brian May, as well as Freddie’s friends. And she wouldn’t be deterred, the article ends with her still claiming:

“These people are frightened because Freddie is with ME.”

Queen guitarist Brian May – he’s also a Doctor of Astrophysics – FOR REAL

And speaking of Brian May, he even mentioned in a 2014 interview with British tabloid, The Daily Star.

I feel him around a lot. I don’t want to be too mystical about it but he is very much a part of what we do.

Brian May about Freddie Mercury

This was right when Brian was producing an animated special called One Night In Hell based on some art he has collecting, but more interestingly they were a about to release three new Freddie Mercury songs that they had found in the archives on a record called Queen Forever. So, obviously he was thinking a lot about his departed friend and hearing his voice in the studio might have brought back some of those familiar feelings. Who knows, maybe Freddie was with them, just like he visited Jennifer a few years earlier.

Actor Rami Malek who won the Oscar playing Freddie Mercury

The most recent story about the ghost of Freddie Mercury comes right from the set of Bohemian Rhapsody, where a source told the online site Dish Nation, that:

There has been feeling from Rami and Brian along with the film’s director Bryan Singer that​ ​Freddie is watching them prepare for filming. Rami believes Freddie’s presence is very much on-set and with him wherever he goes, including when he’s at home practicing singing Queen songs… Rami has ​been dreaming​ of Freddie telling him about how he performed on stage, showing him his moves and how it is to be a rock star.

Anonymous source from the set of Bohemian Rhapsody

But speaking of director Bryan Singer, he has himself been embroiled in controversy over sexual allegations of seducing underage boys. And it certainly doesn’t help that in many people’s minds he’s associated with Kevin Spacey, since Singer was the one who really launched the disgraced actor’s career by directing him to a Best Supporting Actor Oscar in The Usual Suspects. When Malek was nominated for the Academy Award, he was immediately interviewed for the Los Angeles Times, and when pressed about the allegations against Singer, he brings up Freddie’s ghost again.

 I didn’t know much about Bryan. I think that the allegations and things were, believe it or not, honestly something I was not aware of, and that is what it is. Who knows what happens with that … but I think somehow we found a way to persevere through everything that was thrown our way.

Perhaps that was Freddie himself doing it, because we wanted to make a product that was worthy of him. Who knows?

Rami Malek

So, while Freddie’s physical body has been gone almost three decades now, it looks like his spirit isn’t going anywhere. Whether or not it was actually his consciousness visiting Brian May and Rami Malek or it was just his personality was so larger than life that it’s easy to mentally create the energy in our own heads, it doesn’t really matter.

Freddie Mercury is still alive every time we sing along to words we don’t even understand like “Scaramouche scaramouche will you do the Fandango?” Freddie Mercury is still alive every time a teenager bangs his head to that incredible guitar riff and then grabs his partner to slow dance at the end. Freddie’s dead, but we bring him back to life every time we let it rip to a Queen song.

After all, who wants to live forever anyway?