All posts by Mike Huberty

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

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?

M Is For Major Arcana: Storytelling Through The Tarot

In addition to being lovers of the paranormal and all things Fortean, Wendy and I also have been performing in a rock band since college. The name of the band started as Nevermore, which we thought was sweet because everyone loves Edgar Allen Poe, but we switched it to Sunspot because the lawyers for a power metal band called Nevermore threatened to sue us when they got famous before we did.

Sunspot seemed like a cool name because they’re dark mysterious parts of the sun that interfere with radio waves on Earth. We’re all into sci-fi, so having an astronomical event be the name for our band sounded about right. Plus, it was the 90’s and compound nouns were all the rage then (Pearljam, Soundgarden, etc…)

We’ve always had a touch of an occult bent to the music and have long enjoyed the symbolism and mystery of the Tarot deck. In fact, our band, Sunspot’s first album, Radio Free Earth, featured The Fool from the Rider-Waite Tarot on the cover. I’ve always loved the Tarot, even though I don’t find it particularly mystical.

It’s a great party game, but it’s also a useful tool for self-reflection. The Major Arcana represent archetypes of personalities, and we all have a little bit of those archetypes inside of us at one time or another, so it can almost be a form of psychoanalysis. When you deal the card, what does that archetype mean to you and for your life?

So when, we were looking to create a rock opera that we were going to tour the country with, we knew we were going to be playing for a lot of people who had never seen us before. We needed to find some kind of shorthand that we could use to get a message across quickly to audiences who weren’t very familiar with our music. The Tarot seemed like the perfect and we could even give it a frame story of a lonely guy talking to an Internet psychic and the cards that he deals would then lead into the songs.

But in order to get to that story, we had to work our way through the process of how we would tell a story in a live music performance by using background videos, tarot cards, and loud rock songs. Here is the process we went through and the notes we took to figure out the beats of the story, what Tarot cards would work the best, and then you can see what became the final product, our rock opera, Major Arcana.

What Story Are We Trying To Tell?
“Life is pain. Anyone who says different is trying to sell you something.” – The Princess Bride

We’re all slowly disconnecting from each other. How can it be possible that we know more about each other than ever (we know what someone has to eat through their Twitter update, we know what they’re listening to at the time through Blip.fm, we know the score of their children’s soccer game through Facebook) but we take care of each other less than ever. We know the lives of celebrities better than we know the people who live next door. A recent study found that the number of people with whom Americans can discuss matters important to them dropped by nearly one-third, from 2.94 people in 1985 to 2.08 in 2004. Researchers also found that the number of people who said they had no one with whom to discuss such matters more than doubled, to nearly 25 percent. We have more ways to connect with people like us than ever, but there’s nowhere we belong more than ever.

The theme of this work is taking a journey that starts in naivete which leads to mistakes, pain, and isolation. It is only when he doesn’t try to control others but takes control of his own destiny that he rejoins society and finds the place where he belongs. Sunspot’s music and live show is a communal experience for the audience. Bringing people together is something we do extraordinarily well (there have been 4 weddings from people that have met at Sunspot shows!) Our music and performance is about connection from interacting with the audience to communal singalongs. We are all about bridging the gaps in the human condition.

Why The Tarot?
The main character is portrayed as a modernized version of The Fool from the Tarot and is representative of a desperate soul in search of experience. We use graphics and animation during the songs to show the emotional significance and characterization of each experience and to highlight the performance onstage.

Each song is represented by a major arcana tarot card that in its meaning helps represent the song graphically while the music conveys the emotion and the performance makes it real for the audience. By using the Tarot mixed with sci-fi elements we’re combining mysticism and technology. Viewing modern-day problems through the lens of archaic symbolism, much like the main theme of the piece deals with the paradox of how ultramodern forms of communication cannot cure the age-old problem of humans not relating to each other.

By using the Tarot, we don’t have to spell everything out for the viewer and we can use symbols that many are already familiar with, yet simple enough that their meaning can be imported through a few images. Also, it enables us to use a motif that began on our first record and work off the symbolism of each record afterwards because the iconography of our albums can be juxtaposed with the Tarot easily as well as integrating into the show’s themes.

Here is the basic structure of the character’s journey, the symbolism and iconography of each moment:

When The Revolution Comes (The Fool)

The character is an idealist and it’s one of our few songs that is honestly idealistic. It’s pure and sweet and non-ironic.

This is the perfect song to introduce the Fool character. After all, it’s his naivete that sets him on his journey.

The Breach (The Emperor)

Stinging disappointment and the way that idealism and hope can be inverted and crushed. Trust is abused and eventually broken. The descent begins.

The Emperor symbolizes the desire to rule over one’s surroundings, and its appearance in a reading often suggests that the subject needs to accept that some things may not be controllable, and others may not benefit from being controlled.

Sweet Relief (The Hanged Man)/Tunguska (The Wheel of Fortune)


A pean for the beginning of separation, the start of a change. The idea that the grass is greener on the other side of the street. The notion of emotional divorce from the world begins to seem attractive because there has to be a better way.

A pean for the beginning of separation, the start of a change. The idea that the grass is greener on the other side of the street. The notion of emotional divorce from the world begins to seem attractive because there has to be a better way.

The Hanged Man relationship to the other cards usually involves the sacrifice that makes sacred; personal loss for a greater good or a greater gain.

And when the song switches to “Tunguska” it’s the moment of impact, when the isolation begins. The character gets the last vestiges of his hope destroyed, blown away.

The Wheel of Fortune represents the intercession of random chance into the Fool’s path. The card represents the forces that can help or hinder the querant suddenly or unpredictably.

Eat Out My Heart (The Devil)

Here comes the idea that there’s no way to win, that separating from humanity is the best way because when you care too much, you lose.

Or it’s the idea of being a slave to an idea. The character is a slave to his idea that he’s been hurt. “Eat Out My Heart” is a song about hating someone else and being a big old victim. It’s wallowing in self-pity and delusion that someone else is to blame for why the character feels stung. As long as the character is encumbered by those emotions, they never get better. It’s not about being upset with the girl who this song is for, because that girl isn’t suffering. It’s the character singing who is being punished and he’s punishing himself. The Devil is great for “Defeated” but also works for “Eat Out My Heart” to add some levity here.

The Devil is the card of self-bondage to an idea or belief which is preventing a person from growing or being healthy. It is the card of futility, pessimism, and mistakes.

Neanderthal (The Hermit)

The lowest point of the emotional arc. Relationships are about domination and humanity is cast aside in favor of the animal. It’s the heaviest moment, the darkest lyrics.

The Hermit represents the need to withdraw from society to become comfortable with himself. He represents isolation.

Dig Your Grave (Death)

The other side of the door. It’s about seeing how someone else retreats, it’s about how someone else runs away from the rest of the world and in reacting to that event, the character starts to regain his (or her) sense of connection to the rest of the world. Only through forgiving others for how they’ve wronged you, can you start to become part of the community again.

Death implies an end, possibly of a relationship or interest, and therefore implies an increased sense of self-awareness.

Perfect (Strength)

A realization of that’s how life is, that you can’t control what happens around you only how you react to it. The character just wants to decide his own destiny.

“It doesn’t matter if everything’s ugly, it doesn’t matter if it’s all unsafe.” This song works well with this theme right off the bat. It’s a little more fun and the message is more straightforward. It’s happy, but not too happy and would lead well into Summer Day.

The modern interpretation of Strength stresses discipline and control. The lion represents the primal or id-like part of the mind, and the woman, the ‘higher’ or more elevated parts of the mind. The card tells the Querent to be wary of the temptations of the flesh.For example, in The Chariot card, the Querant is fighting a battle. The difference is that in Strength, the battle is mainly internal rather than external.

Summer Day (The Chariot)

I’ll be part of the group but by my own terms. I’ll live my own life and I’ll do it the way I want to. That’s what’s important, that’s what counts. You can’t make me grow up because I’ve seen the pain and the suffering that grown-ups endure. I’ll join, but only if I get to make the rules.

After the impulse that pulls us out of the Garden, we get on our chariot and depart. At that point, we are the Hero of our own story; maybe the Hero of everyone’s story. That Hero might represent Helios, the Greek god who drives the Sun’s chariot across the sky, bringing light to the earth.

No Place Like Home (The Star)

You have to accept that the world will crush your hopes sometimes, and that the world is hard. But it’s not impossible to find your place and sometimes it’s right back where you started, but when you get here this time, you at least have a better understanding and you’ve chosen to be here. So now, you may not necessarily be in the place you think you shoud be, but you’re in the place that suits you best.

The pool of water refers to the subconscious. The land refers to the material world. She renews both. Usually divined as hope for the future, good things to come regarding the cards close to the star. By having a foot in both, this is where the Fool understands that he needs to be part of the material world as well as his own life. This is the reintegration and reconnection back to society.

So, this silly story told through tarot cards consumed about a year of our lives. From the initial concept, to writing new songs, to figuring out how to synchronize the videos and lights, to recording the actors, to booking the tour, and then editing the DVD and all the videos ourselves.

And through that year-long DIY creative undertaking, much like a good Tarot reading, we learned a lot about ourselves. We loved the final result and the show was great (we even recorded a video tour diary as well as a directors commentary track on the DVD!), but it was the processthat we’ll always remember.

By doing it all ourselves and creating everything from scratch (except for the Tarot cards), we put ourselves through what sometimes felt like Hell. But it was our own “hero’s journey” along with the character from the show. And hopefully we too might have started off the trip as the Fool, but came out the other side, The Star.

K Is For Kissing: The Blarney Stone And A Mysterious Shadow Cat

This blogpost is adapted from a podcast interview we did with author, Nick Redfern. In the podcast we talk extensively about tulpas or thoughtforms come to life. And you can listen to the episode if you’d like to learn more. Also, if you’re interested in watching me tell the whole story on video, head down to the bottom of this post.

So, while taking a trip to the UK and Ireland in 2008, I was reading Nick Redfern’s book, Three Men Seeking Monsters, which was about Nick and his friends going to the locations of legendary paranormal sightings across Britain, listening to punk rock, and drinking prodigious amounts of ale. That was the kind of trip that I could get behind and it was a fun book to read while we were on our own road trip across the island.

It was a terrifying time for us because I was just about to quit my day job working in software and I wanted to go for it as a musician. My wife, Chris, (girlfriend at the time) was contemplating leaving her career as a music teacher as well. So we were a couple of people who were planning on changing our lives completely.

One of the things that my wife did to lighten our apprehensive moods on the trip was secretly bring along a set of sticky googly eyes and she’d put them in different places (like on the Nick Redfern book) every morning to make us laugh. It was all based around this Saturday Night Live sketch with Christopher Walken where he played a gardener who was scared of plants. So, he’s stick googly eyes on them so he could look them in the eye. It was our favorite skit and we laughed that we’d remember these little jokes if our relationship got rocky, so we wanted to save them “for the hard times”.

So, while we’re in Ireland seeing the sites, we visit the Blarney Castle right outside of Cork. Now, when you visit the Castle of Blarney, you have to go see The Blarney Stone. The legend is that anyone who kisses the Blarney Stone will get the “gift of gab” and they offically call it “The Stone of Eloquence” because it’s supposed to make you more persuasive and be able to tell lies and have other people enjoy hearing it! And I know that sounds bad right before I tell a crazy story.

There are many supposed origins of this urban legend, but my favorite involves a witch who was saved from being executed by Cormac McCarthy, who was the lord of the castle at the time. She supposedly granted him this special gift of eloquence, of being able to lie and exaggerate and persuade, becuase he saved her life.

Surrounding the castle is a beautiful park where there are big rock formations they call a “Rock Close”, they have some old caves they call Druid’s Cave and Witch’s Kitchen. There’s some fun folklore about how the witch is trapped in a stone during the day and only comes out at night, but sometimes you can still see the embers of her fire from the night before burning in the kitchen.

But the most interesting section is the Wishing Stairs, a stairway where you’re supposed to walk up and down it backwards with your eyes closed and focus on a wish and if you succeed in doing so, your wish will come true within a year.

The following paragraphs are taken directly from my journal (which still has googly eyes on it) and I wrote them down as soon as we got to our hotel that night…

We weren’t expecting much but it was awesome. The lines weren’t too bad and it was a little overcast, but the temperature was perfect. The pathways were so wind-y and skinny, it was a long trip for us to get to the top of the battlements, so I can just imagine what it’s like for elderly people who take the journey.

Me kissing the Blarney Stone, it’s actually pretty scary

Kissing the Blarney Stone was way more of a rush than we expected because you have to actually lean back really far over the edge and someone holds you while you kiss it.You’re far enough back though, so it’s scary. That was fun and the castle was magnificent, but the Rock Close was the real treat. We waled along there by the Druid Cricle and up and down the Wishing Stairs (where I wished for financial independence because I was planning on quitting my day job and Chris must have wished something about her cats, but more on that later.)

The Wishing Steps of Blarney

So, we walked away from the Rock Close and to the gardens around the castle. We were completely alone and sat at a bench overlooking a field through the foliage. I told Chris about the Cormons in Nick Redfern’s book because I had just finished it that morning.

In his book, Redfern talks about interviewing an old witch, who told him about these creatures called Cormons. They were summoned to our world centuries ago by some British magicians and Irish occultists who were looking to protect the Isles from foreign marauders like the Vikings. These Cormons were supposed to appear as the darkest fears of the attackers (usually with glowing red eyes) and defend the island. But the magicians and the occultists were slaughtered and the Cormons were free to roam the land and feed on our fearful emotions. He speculated that UFOs, ghost sightings, and other monsters were these Cormons who use our fear as a pathway from their dimension into ours.

I was telling Chris about the Cormons and what an interesting idea I thought it was and she said “How scary would it be if the Big Black Wolf from The Never-Ending Story appeared right now?”

Gmork. “The Big Black Wolf” that Chris was referring to.

Just then a shape appeared in the pathway a hundred yards from us. I took a couple of blurry pictures and adrenaline rushed through our veins. It looked like it could be a wolf from the distance, but we approached it slowly and it was the form of a black cat that jumped into the bushes before we got a good look at it.

nick redfern tulpa
Sorry it’s blurry, but as soon as I saw it, I immediately tried to get a picture.

We never really saw its eyes but looked around for it where it jumped to and didn’t see anything. We couldn’t believe what we’d just seen after what we were talking about, it couldn’t have been written any better.

A closer up shot of the Demon Dog of Blarney! Okay, okay, I guess it does look like a cat

Chris said that it might have been because of the wish she made when she was on the Wishing Stairs. I thought she might have wished that our black cat, Mr. Spock, was okay and that’s why a black cat appeared. But the shape looked like it was a wolf at first, which made it so we just couldn’t believe it.

We were so grateful for the experience that we left googly eyes on a fern at the Druids sacrificial altar that was in the garden as an offering for the Blarney Witch to thank her. We thought she’d appreciate giving her our jokes “for the hard times”. We had a delightful lunch by the horses and took the Woodland Walk, saw Faeries’ Glen and the Horse’s Graveyard, but it’s the Shadow Cat of Blarney that’s the story we will always remember.

The Googly-Eyed Fern that we left for the Blarney Witch

A few years later, my wife told me that when she was on the Wishing Steps, she wished for a sign for her own future. And when she saw the cat, she thought was a miracle, because she’d been offered a position at a cat specialty clinic in town just before we left. She was desperate to find any kind of sign as to what to do with her life and there it was.

Seeing a mysterious shadowy animal while on the trail was one thing, but us both seeing something different was another. And her seeing the Shadow Cat of Blarney helped her make her final decision.


This Week’s Best Paranormal News – April 12th, 2019

Hey guys,
If you missed our last podcast it’s a great discussion with paranormal reality star Brian Cano (from Haunted Collector and Paranormal Caught on Camera). Click here to listen to it.

In the meantime, we’re back with the best paranormal news we saw this week!

‘Haunted’ doll ‘blinks’ in selfie at abandoned ‘Village of the Damned’
mirror

This one went viral on social media this week and it’s a pretty great pic. The creepy doll appeared to close her eyes in an abandoned building known as ‘The Village of the Damned’

Chinese scientists made super-monkeys with human brain genes
Futurism

And so it begins… “It is a classic slippery slope issue and one that we can expect to recur as this type of research is pursued.”

We Spoke to an MIT Computer Scientists About the Simulation Hypothesis
Digital Trends

The simulation hypothesis, which was famously probed in the 1999 film The Matrix, is the subject of a new book by Rizwan Virk, a computer scientist and video game developer who leads Play Labs at MIT. In his book, Virk endeavors to unpack the heady arguments that call our physical world into question.

Iran Says ‘Tall, White’ Space Aliens Control America
Forbes

Documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden conclusively prove that the United States has been ruled by a race of tall, white space aliens who also assisted the rise of Nazi Germany in the 1930s. Okay…

Incident Detail Report Shows Man Called 911 to Report Sighting of ‘7-8 ft Tall’ Creature in Woodstock, Illinois
The Singular Fortean Society

Now here’s a great example of how you do a paranormal investigation lead by our friends in The Singular Fortean Society. Someone called 911 to report seeing a strange winged creature in the northern Chicago burbs. The investigators followed up with the caller as well as did a Freedom of Information Act request to get a transcript of the call. Now, the rest of it is sketchy because the caller was hoping to “name the creature” and then they weren’t responsive to the investigator’s follow-ups. But The Singular Fortean handled this exactly right.

Stevie Wonder isn’t blind, claim wild theorists – and here’s the ‘evidence’
mirror

The so-called ‘Stevie Wonder Truthers’ bizarrely claim there’s a whole heap of evidence to suggest Stevie can see. Ummm… what?!

Sneaker Pimps – Superstition (Stevie Wonder Cover) YouTube

Trip Hop pioneers Sneaker Pimps covering Stevie?! Oh yeah. If Stevie can really see, we hope he watches the video!

Next week, we’re tackling the cursed movie Antrum. Please make sure you’re subscribed to the podcast to get it as soon as it comes out!

See you on the other side of the weekend!
Mike, Wendy, and the SYOTOS family

I Is For Incubus: The Original Sleep Creep

In the middle of the night your eyes open. You’re not dreaming because you can see your room all around you. When you try to move, your body refuses to cooperate. You feel a pressure on your chest, a tightening of your windpipe. You can’t breathe and you can’t move. And then you see it. This malevolent beast that’s on top of you. This thing has violated your bedroom, your safest space and now it’s riding you, choking the life out of you. It doesn’t feel like a dream, it’s happening to you. And there’s nothing you can do about it.

And then the wicked thing is gone. The pressure is relieved, you can move your arms again, you can breathe once more. You’re terrified because it wasn’t a dream, it was happening to you while you were awake. It’s a real live Freddy Krueger coming out of your nightmare world and entering our physical realm. How is it even possible?

Scientifically speaking, the state when you transition from sleeping to wakefulness is called hypnopompia. While you dream, your voluntary muscles do not move so that you’re not running around in your sleep. You cycle between REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep where you have dreams and non-REM sleep where your body is just relaxing. Sometimes the cycle doesn’t sync up right and you wake up and you’re still stuck where your body can’t move because your mind thinks you’re dreaming, and because you are still dreaming, you can have visual hallucinations as well. That’s sleep paralysis and it’s scary as Hell.

I myself had a terrifying experience with sleep paralysis and while I didn’t see an old hag, I saw the grey aliens from Communion standing around me when I woke up from a dream when I was 12 years old and it was horrifying. We covered that in an episode about sleep paralysis and I go into all the details of my own personal “nightmare”.

They often call sleep paralysis “Old Hag Syndrome” because some men dream of seeing an old woman on top of them. Our word nightmare actually comes from a creature in Slavic folklore called a mare that rides your chest at night while you sleep. The Germans even had little prayers they’d say at night to ward off the mares. It’s something that happens to humans almost universally and it’s terrifying.

Adam Gray, a Canadian filmmaker, was so affected by his visit from the Old Hag that he ended up making a film about it and it lead to a series of paranormal films for Canadian television. You could say that his Old Hag actually was lucky because it furthered his career!

But sometimes strange dream women visiting men in the middle of the night don’t just want to terrify and paralye you, they want to steal your seed. And that’s where we get the succubi from, sex demons like the Hebrew legend, Lillith. She was Adam’s first wife from Genesis and was supposedly banned from the Garden of Eden and determined to take revenge on humankind. She’s not exclusively a Jewish legend, because they also mention a Lillitu in the epic of Gilgamesh who was a female demon that seduced men in the middle of the night.

It was an easy way for religious men to not feel guilty about nocturnal emissions and wet dreams because it wasn’t their impure thoughts that caused it to happen, it was the succubi visiting them in the middle of the night.

When this happenes to women, they’re called incubi instead of succubi and an incubus rapes women while they sleep. English King James (the guy that made the famous Bible translation) wrote in his dissertation Daemonologie that a demon could be an succubus to steal the seed from the man while he slept and change into an incubus to impregnate a sleeping woman with it. St. Thomas Aquinas pondered the same question a few centuries earlier and decided that those children created from demonic copulation were still human because they had God-given souls because “only God could create life.” In Welsh folklore, it’s said that the child of succubi or incubi is called a cambion and has special powers, the most famous cambion being the wizard Merlin of Arthurian legend.

The thing is, these guys were thinking about nocturnal sex demons fairly frequently enough to write about them.

But, sleep paralysis, the Incubus and Succubus are universal to the human experience no matter what the belief system. In Zanzibar, they’re called the Popo Bawa and there was a very real panic in the 90s that this malevolent entity was on the loose on the island. We talked with an anthropologist who was there during the crisis and what was actually happening.

Popobawa: Dr. Martin Walsh and The Idea Virus

When seemingly otherwise healthy men were dying in Hmong communities in the United States in the 1970s after they were resettled after the Vietnam War, superstitions began arising that it was the dab tsog (pronounced da-cho), who are the crushing spirits that sit on our chests while they sleep. Because these communities were resettled and they didn’t have access to a traditional shaman, some were blaming it on the dab tsog running wild without their traditional spiritual protection. At least one author thinks that it was their belief in the dab tsog that killed them, but another scientist says he’s traced it to a particular mutated gene that controls sodium levels in the heart and it makes certain people more susceptible to irregular heart rhythms while they sleep and puts them at risk for dying in their sleep.

That would explain why it’s more prevalent in Southeast Asian males even though every culture experiences “nightmares”.

They weren’t necessarily all bad, though. In Hawaiian folklore, the househould gods of the kane (male energy) or wahine o ka po (female energy) could visit a couple in the middle of the night and lovemaking would be guilt-free because it was only in dreamland. In fact, the kane o ka po would sometimes help an infertile couple successfully have a child. But also, the man could become obsessed with his wahine o ka po and no longer want to satisy his wife. So, these dream lovers could end up being a mixed bag.

So, the next time you wake up and you can’t move, remember, you’re still dreaming! And if you’re terrified, some experts recommend trying to wiggle your toes or fingers before try to move bigger muscles because that might help. Also, they suggest closing your eyes and imagining your spinning (which interestingly enough, is also a technique I’ve heard to instigate an Out-Of-Body Experience), so before you panic try those techniques and hopefully your Old Hag or Incubus experience will feel just like it really is… only a bad dream.

243 – Never Stop Searching: The Paralosophy of Brian Cano

You might be most familiar with him as the ghost hunting equipment guy on Haunted Collector with John Zaffis, the nephew of the notorious Ed and Lorraine Warren. Or you might have seen him as one of the hosts of the new Travel Channel show Paranormal Caught On Camera. But in the days before paranormal reality television was the popular phenomena it is today, Brian was urban exploring the abandoned buildings and haunted locations of Staten Island and putting together videos of it for public access cable.

His show Scared on Staten Island! (and eventually just called Scared! as they began investigating locations outside New York) started off with just camcorders documenting his haunted adventures and it eventually would lead to a career of hunting ghosts and investigating weird phenomena all over the United States.

His website is called “Never Stop Searching” because it’s based on getting the specualtion out of the research of paranormal phenomena. Why is a ghost the best explanation for an EVP? Why would spirits be limited to a certain location when they don’t have a physical body? Why do we assume that it’s dead human personalities that are showing up in photos and not our own real live brains and psychic energy projecting onto the audio recording or visual image?

in this interview, we discuss Brian’s “paralosophy”, which is really about unlearning all the stuff that we’ve been led to believe about paranormal investigation. Some of the topics we cover:

  • How he started off as a skeptic and saw too much to not believe in something
  • Why we should question all the assumptions of paranormal investigation
  • Why it’s good to go into a place cold and do the historical research afterwards
  • His psychic projection experiment that he likes to perform at every investigation

If you’re in Wisconsin, Brian will be teaching his method of paranormal investigation at the Old Baraboo Inn on April 27th to celebrate their 20th anniversary. Tickets are available by clicking here. Of course, we’ve been to the OBI a few times and have had some weird experiences of our own there, so you never know what you’re going to see!

The song this week, we were inspired by Brian’s “Paralosophy” and the idea of unlearning everything we think we know about the paranormal. Here is Sunspot with “More Than We’ve Dreamt Of”.

it’s so much
bigger than what you see

more than you’ve dreamt of
in your philosophy

and you’ll know it
when you’re ready

it’s what’s stuck in
the corner of your eye

and it’s the fear
that we don’t know why

but when the clouds clear
we’ll see the sky

it doesn’t matter
if we agree

for all these worlds
are yours for free

in the light of
infinity

more than we’ve dreamt of
in our philosophy

once you’re in, you’re in
once you’re past, you’re past
now that you’ve opened the door
you’re never going back

Rip up the rulebook
and let the mother burn
You can eliminate
everything you have learned
You live a hundred lives
and never understand
that you’re nowhere
til you give up everything you have

it’s so much
bigger than what you see

for all these worlds
are yours for free

more than we’ve dreamt of
in our philosopy

and we’ll know it
when we’re ready