All posts by Mike Huberty

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

45 – Pop Culture Professor: Rebecca Housel / Rise of the Geeks

This week’s episode features Dr. Rebecca Housel, the Pop Culture Professor, who is an author, speaker, and professor of writing at Nazareth College. She’s written books like True Blood and Philosophy and The X-Men and Philosophy, in addition to being a panel moderator for Wizard World for several years.

Dr. Rebecca Housel and John Barrowman
Dr. Rebecca Housel with Captain Jack himself, John Barrowman!

Mike and Wendy kick off their own conversation in the beginning by catching up a little bit on their week and discussing Mike’s weird dream of running a marathon dressed in a Freddie Mercury unitard.

Freddie Mercury unitard
And now you can’t get the sweet thought of Mike wearing this out of your head, can you?

And then the interview with the Pop Culture Professor begins as Mike talks to Dr. Housel about her identification with The X-Men as a girl, because it was one of the only comics to feature female characters as equals to their male counterparts. That leads her to a short discussion of working with Stan Lee on various panels and how  she learned that the original name for The X-Men was not so mono-gendered, but it was to be known as The Mutants. One of Marvel’s editors in the 1960s was convinced that it would sell better with “X” in the title, so that’s why they changed it.

From there, they discuss how she became known as Professor Pop Culture. In her classes, she started using examples from movies, comics, TV shows, and modern books to get her students more interested in their writing and all of a sudden it became one of the most popular classes on campus.

Shortly after, she started writing books connecting cult entertainment with larger philosophical themes and got a job as a panel moderator at Wizard World, working with everyone from Stan Lee to Michael Madsen to Joss Whedon. She tells a few of her favorite stories (including flirting with Mister Blonde and openly weeping at meeting Ron Glass, Shepherd Book himself!)

Michael Madsen as Mister Blonde in Reservoir Dogs
You got real nice ears…

The conversation then turns to the rise of “geek culture” in today’s media landscape (nothing’s more popular than comic book films in the Two Thousand and Teens) but also how it came to dominate the latter part of the Twentieth Century, how thoughtful entertainment triumphed over less challenging fiction, and the impact of 9/11 on the modern landscape and the popularity of zombies and post-apocalyptic scenarios (and the interesting cycle of villainous zombies turning to sympathetic monsters over time.)

They then discuss the history of the paranormal in popular culture and how it even began with the invention of Lillith in the original Hebrew creation story. That’s right, Adam had a first wife and he got rid of her because she was sassy, being his equal (made from the same clay) instead of his subordinate (made from his rib!) She became the original vampire who had threatened Adam’s future children when she left Eden and the word “lullaby” actually comes from the Hebrew phrase for “Lillith, go away.”

This moves onto Kali, whose worshippers are the famous Thuggees from not only Gunga Din but also as the fearsome antagonists in Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom. Dr. Housel explains the concept of Kali and how she’s been misrepresented in pop culture through the years.

Mola Ram with a flaming heart from Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom
Eat Your Heart Out, Indy!

The final part of the interview is about Doctor Housel’s own strange paranormal encounters and a little bit about why the Ghost Hunters and paranormal TV shows have dominated cable networks over the past few years.

Read Dr. Housel’s Professor Pop Culture blog right here and you can find her books on Amazon.

This week’s song: “Catfished From Space” by Sunspot

I met her in an X-Files chat,
joking about first contact.
And we talked all night about disclosure and abductees.We had so much in common,
We bonded on Blake’s 7,
She sounded like the perfect fracking geek.She found me every night online,
with a DM and a bottle of wine,
She knew it all from Aliens to Zardoz.

She said she was an ET,
which was really sexy to me,
And I thought it was just a big joke because

She said she was from Alpha Centauri,
I thought that was a code for a town in Missouri.
She used to joke about ruling the human race
That’s when I got Catfished from Space.

She said she’s an otherworldly monster,
That would come to Earth to slaughter,
but that she would do her best to help me to survive.

She talked about her tentacles,
and three sets of genitals,
I just thought she was a fan of Hentai.

I didn’t care if she was pretty,
I knew she was the girl for me,
when she said her favorite cookbook was ‘To Serve Man’

Scheduling a meet up,
so that we could hook up,
She said she had the perfect place to land.

She said she was from Alpha Centauri,
I thought that was a code for a town in Missouri.
She used to joke about ruling the human race
That’s when I got Catfished from Space.

When I woke from where I lay,
It was like Independence Day,
A big V mothership right over my town.

The army put up quite a fight,
But was gone by Dawn’s early light,
that was the day Humanity went down.

It’s not quite happily ever after,
because the planet’s a disaster,
I’m the human pet that’s closest to her hearts.

It’s like Battlefield Earth you know,
post-apocalyptic scenario,
I just wish I’d believed her from the start.

When she said she was from Alpha Centauri,
I thought that was a code for a town in Missouri.
She used to joke about ruling the human race
That’s when I got Catfished from Space.

44 – Dracula to The Wicker Man, Star Wars to Saruman: Remembering the Great Christopher Lee

With hundreds of film credits, horror icon Christopher Lee is listed in the Guinness a Book of World Records as the most prolific actor in cinema history. With his passing last week at the ripe old age of 93 years old, it was the final act for an artist for whom retirement was never even an option. Most famous for his work as Dracula in the Hammer Horror films, Lee would go on to appear in the most successful movie franchises in history. He was James Bond villain Scaramanga in The Man With The Golden Gun, The unfortunately named Count Dooku (AKA the badass Darth Tyranus) in the Star Wars prequels, the traitorous Saruman in The Lord of the Rings and the good Saruman in The Hobbit, he was even in The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles on TV (in that interesting experiment in how patient viewers would be watching a history lesson disguised as an Indiana Jones story with no action.) Christopher Lee found his villainous way into just about everything.

Allison from Milwaukee Ghosts joins Mike and Wendy as they discuss Christopher Lee’s fascinating life and career. They start by dissecting his most famous roles in the Hammer horror films and friendship with fellow Star Wars alum (and movie Doctor Who) Peter Cushing. But the discussion quickly veers to Lee’s Old World upbringing, his real life badassery serving in the special forces in World War II (he told Peter Jackson, his LoTR director, exactly how a person really sounds when they’re stabbed in the back), how he witnessed France’s final execution by guillotine, and even his late period heavy metal career. Lee’s symphonic metal albums were all about the first Holy Roman Emperor, Charlemagne, and Lee himself in true Old World fashion said that h can trace his own lineage back to the Frankish king.)

The longest discussion though is saved for a role that Lee considered his greatest and that is of Lord Summerisle in the 1973 (very distinctly) British pagan thriller, The Wicker Man, a role that he helped create by getting together with the screenwriter, Anthony Schaffer, and director, Robin Hardy, to try and blend their talents to create something truly memorable. And they succeeded, Mike tells of when he first watched the film with his Dad when he was a child and his mother comically disapproved of all the pagan nudity of the film. When Mike selected it for rental (back when we all used to rent VHS tapes from a grocery store), he merely thought that it looked cool because it featured Edward Woodward from The Equalizer and they had no idea what they were in store for.

christopher lee - the wicker man
Christopher Lee looking awesome in front of The Wicker Man!

(WARNING – SPOILERS FOR A 42 YEAR OLD MOVIE) A perfect “Age of Aquarius”-era ode to how Paganism is connected to the natural world of the flesh (sexuality)and the land (agriculture), while it contrasts Christianity as focusing on self-deprivation and the world to come. And The Equalizer could have saved himself from a Burning a Man-style sacrifice by just succumbing to his natural urges with Willow (the deliriously sexy 70s Britt Ekland.) Either way, it’s definitely not the feel good movie of the year and in the end, the good guys don’t win (or do they?) Everybody talks about the 2006 Nicolas Cage-starring, Neil LaBute-directed remake, which turns Pagan vs. Christian into a Battle of the Sexes and is an (unintentional, maybe?) laugh riot in its own right.

The discussion ends with a warning from Christopher Lee to not mess with the occult, because you’ll not only lose your mind, “you lose your soul.” This week’s song is a special one too, because it features Wendy singing Paul Giovanni’s “Willow’s Song” (NSFW), which is easily the most famous track from The a Wicker Man (probably because in the movie, it’s four minutes of nude singing, kind of like the video for “Blurred Lines” but much less douche-y.)

Willow's Song - The Wicker Man
Willow singing her song!

 

“Willow’s Song” from The Wicker Man, as performed by Sunspot.

Heigh ho! Who is there?
No one but me, my dear.
Please come say, how do?
The things I’ll give to you.

A stroke as gentle as a feather
I’ll catch a rainbow from the sky
and tie the ends together.

Heigh ho! I am here.
Am I not young and fair?
Please come say, how do?
The things I’ll show to you.

Would you have a wond’rous sight?
The midday sun at midnight.

Fair maid, white and red,
Comb you smooth and stroke your head.

How a maid can milk a bull!
Mmmmm-mmmm And every stroke a bucketful.

La-la-la La-la-la
La-la-la-La-la-la

42 – Secrets of the Vatican: Pope Francis and UFO Disclosure

Once again, Mike and Wendy are joined by Milwaukee Ghosts’ Allison Jornlin for a discussion on some upcoming web articles that Pope Francis is going to finally disclose that alien life has visited Earth and we’re going to make real first contact. Why Pope Francis and what does Catholicism have to do with extraterrestrial life? Well, the Catholic Church has been setting up the possible existence of aliens for years now, and that’s what we discuss about the podcast.

Mike mentions that he finished his marathon in Minneapolis on Sunday and they discuss their appearance on BBC Radio 5 discussing the #charliecharliechallenge.

Whatcha gonna do when Hulkamania runs wild on YOU?! #nikeplus #minneapolis #marathon

A photo posted by sunspotmike (@sunspotmike) on


But first, we preview the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference where Allison will be a featured speaker on Milwaukee Forteana and we’ll all be hanging out recording the next podcast and talking to attendees to get their weirdest stories.

Okay, so Pope Francis, popular among people outside of just Catholics because he’s brought new life into an old Church with his Liberation Theology politics (Catholics are usually economically liberal and socially conservative, like the political opposite of Libertarians) more tolerant attitude on social issues versus the hardline of Pope John Paul II and the unpopular-in-the-United-States Benedict.

So, with Pope Francis setting the world on fire with his decrees and allegiance with the poor, is he the one who’s going to reveal the existence of aliens to us? There’s been several articles this week that he might do so on June 5th(!) or perhaps a little later in the month.

It’s not like Catholics don’t have a fascination with outer space, in fact, there’s a Vatican Observatory located in an extinct volcano in Italy (as well as a branch in Tuscon, Arizona of all places!) and the Vatican lead a special conference on extraterrestrial life in 2009. Pope Francis himself in 2014 declared that he would baptize Martians if they came to Earth and wanted to become Catholic.

The Vatican Observatory and the scientist priests that work there have also been featured in films like The Omen (the birth of the Anti-Christ is foretold in star alignment just like the Star of Bethlehem) and Arnold Schwarzennegger’s blockbuster movie, End of Days (Mike proceeds to do a horrible Ah-nuld accent through much of the podcast once they start talking about this film.) Allison thinks that they might be using the observatory to look for Biblical prophecy and signs of Armageddon (not the crapola Bruce Willis movie, please) or Revelation.


Ged to da housekeepah

Then this breaks down to a talk about Asteroid Day which is coming on June 30th and all involved declare their love for Brian May, the guitarist of Queen and astrophysicist, who is an advocate of the new holiday.

Jaws was never my scene And I don’t like Star Wars

Finally, the discussion goes into whether or not Jesus and Satan were aliens, which is the premise of the John Carpenter classic, Prince of Darkness (which you can watch on Google Play or iTunes right now for not even $3, so if you haven’t seen it, stop what you’re doing and go watch it right now.)

Anyway, the conversation ends with a discussion on how it’s a touch hypocritical that the Church looks down on Astrology and Divination, yet looks to the sky for Biblical prophecy and signs from the stars, so what do they know that we don’t? We hope to find out this month when the Pope finally declares that aliens live among us and we for one welcome our new extraterrestrial overlords.

Song of the Week: “Messiah Complex” by Sunspot

When Constantine saw the cross,
burning in the sky,
Another bleeding heart thinks they can fix our broken lives.
While you’re waiting for your vision,
In your existential dread.
These bargain basement martyrs
Still just wind up dead.

It’s the messiah complex,
that happens before childhood’s end.
But just because you’re not alone,
doesn’t mean you have a friend.

So save yourself,
in a world full of victims,
Spending their whole life,
waiting for the knife.
Save yourself,
we got to save ourselves,
Or we’ll never survive.
No one gets out alive.

They tell us we have sinned,
they tell us we are cursed,
and if you want to get to Heaven,
you’ve got to walk through Hellfire first.
So you’d like be a saint
Well, here’s my advice,
all that crushing guilt is just empty sacrifice.

It’s the messiah complex,
that happens before childhood’s end.
But just because you’re not alone,
doesn’t mean you have a friend.

So save yourself,
in a world full of victims,
Spending their whole life,
waiting for the knife.
Save yourself,
we got to save ourselves,
Or we’ll never survive.
No one gets out alive.

41 – Charlie Charlie, Can You Play? Supernatural Party Games from Bloody Mary to The Candyman

Taking the Internet by storm this week, it’s the “Charlie Charlie” game! Is it really summoning a Mexican demon? Ummmmmmm, probably not, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have a fascinating origin and relationship to teenage supernatural party games. A little mix of the Ouija Board (which, don’t worry, will get its own show sometime soon!) to Bloody Mary, “the pencil game” started off as something relatively harmless and became a crazy sensation on the Internet over Memorial Day Weekend of 2015.

So, who do we have to thank for that? Well, it’s been a slow news week and Americans are going on vacation. That’s exactly when the media decides to indulge its weird side and talk about hashtags. So #charliecharliechallenge became a quick Vine video that a million teenagers could do this past weekend.

Here’s Mike asking the question, “Charlie Charlie, Can You Play?”

Mike and Wendy discuss the origins of the game and how it’s not really a Mexican demon (because why wouldn’t it be #carlitocarlito?) and how the original game is based on trying to talk to the sport of an abused child. But why do the pencils move? Well, that’s explained by the most powerful force in the universe (well, the second most powerful, we all know the most powerful is Hulkamania, brother.) So, that leads them into a discussion of the classic game, Bloody Mary!

Derived from an early twentieth century game where a girl walks up a darkened staircase backwards with a candle and a mirror and will supposedly see the face of her future husband, the legend of Bloody Mary (or Mary Worth) became a popular game in the 1960s and has been played at sleepovers and middle school parties ever since.

There’s a reason that the adolescent mind is fascinated with the paranormal and the conversation turns to science for a second as they discuss the developing mind and why these games are so popular for that age group.

Mike and Wendy then tackle “Light as a feather, stiff as a board” and how it’s a game that’s been played since at least the 17th Century. In fact, the famed English diarist, Samuel Pepys talks about it, as a ritual performed to protect against the plague in London. And that’s not the first time that sacred rituals have been turned into children’s games…

So Bloody Mary has influenced pop culture in a big way as well. First of all, in a few not really good movies, except for Paranormal Activity 3, which Mike helped promote as part of his Madison Ghost Walks haunted history tour. Here’s Wendy with a t-shirt, along with one of the sound guys at our favorite bar, The Frequency. paranormal activity 3

Then, Mike and Wendy talk South Park, Candyman, and Beetlejuice, as some more Bloody Mary influences on some of our favorite movies and TV!

This week’s song, “Charlie Charlie” by Sunspot

Oh Charlie Charlie,
can you tell me if you’re here?
Oh Charlie Charlie,
can you be my secret seer?
Charlie Charlie,
what is the meaning of it all?
Oh Charlie Charlie,
what am I deserving of?
Oh Charlie Charlie,
will I ever fall in love?
Charlie Charlie, show me the writing on the wall.

Oh Charlie Charlie,
was your innocence destroyed?
Oh Charlie Charlie,
does it all come down to Freud?
Charlie Charlie,
what is the meaning of it all?
Oh Charlie Charlie,
did you have a sick father?
Oh Charlie Charlie,
why do you even bother?
Charlie Charlie, show me the writing on the wall.

Are you an angel,
are you a devil?
Or are you just a soul who got lost along the way?
A little game with the great unknown,
to play for what the future holds,
I’m frightened but I just can’t look away,
So Charlie Charlie can we play?

Charlie Charlie, Can You Play? Links

What is the #CharlieCharlieChallenge, and why do teens love it so much?

“The Charlie Charlie Challenge — Contacting the Demonic”, L.A> Marzuli Blog

Charlie Charlie Challenge explained: not a Mexican demon being summoned — it’s gravity

40 – The Ghosts of Hollywood Boulevard: A Haunted Travelogue

Mike went on a trip last weekend to California and decided to go down the path of some well-known spirits while he was out there, he read an article that said that the ghosts of Hollywood Boulevard had the most haunts per capita of any place in Los Angeles, well, he just had to check it out.

Stop 1 – Hollywood And Vine

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Photo May 15, 7 02 35 PM

At this famous intersection, it’s said that the ghost of Lon Chaney (the original cinematic Phantom of The Opera) would wait by the bus for failed audition after failed audtion, and it’s sad that’s where continues to wait years after his death.

Photo May 15, 7 05 00 PM

Photo May 15, 7 03 04 PM

Stop 2 – Pantages Theatre

This famous theatre was built by billionaire/crazypants Howard Hughes, and he’s still said to roam the halls. However, Wendy thought the story of the lost wardrobe director who was guided through the darkness by an invisible hand to be even more chilling.

Photo May 15, 7 07 08 PM

Stop 3 – Hollywood and Highland

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Photo May 15, 6 13 31 PM

This strange Egyptian-themed outdoor mall is right next to the Kodak Theatre and the Loews Hotel, it’s the Hollywood when they tell people on American Idol that they’re “going to Hollywood”. It’s also the site of the old Hollywood Hotel, where the cinema’s first teenage heartthrob, Rudolph Valentino, is said to still haunt.

Photo May 15, 6 13 39 PM

Stop 4 – Grauman’s Chinese Theatre

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Probably the most famous theater in Los Angeles, this is the place where you see the stars put their hands in the concrete. There’s a vengeful ghost of a murdered actor who is said to prowl the theater and there’s the tale of Fritz (plus we mention a scary display from one of the theater’s spirits-in-residence.)

Stop 5 – Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel

Photo May 15, 7 32 54 PM

We take a step back to Hollywood’s more glamorous past with the Hollywood Roosevelt. Mike and Wendy tell a ridiculous story from the last time they visited there together, and then we talk about the spirits of Marilyn Monroe and Montgomery Clift who are said to still haunt the building.

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Photo May 15, 8 13 24 PM

Stop 6 – Griffith Park

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Mike needed to do some hills to prepare for his upcoming marathon and decided to tackle the road to Griffith Observatory, a strange place indeed, not only cursed by a scorned heiress and is home to the spirit of a suicide, but is also the residence of a pair of lovers who were killed by a felled tree in the middle of the act itself!

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Stop 7 – The Seventh Veil

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Well, since Mike grew up as a monster Mötley Crüe fan, it only seemed right that he visit the famous gentlemen’s club that is said to have inspired their song, “Girls, Girls, Girls” (funny enough Mike didn’t realize that song was about a strip club until a few years ago, having listened to it for years he just thought it was about propositioning girls. Only when he was walking in Paris and stumbled across the Crazy Horse, did he realize, “Oh my god, Mötley Crüe was talking about a strip club!”)

But the name, “The Seventh Veil” not only comes from an Oscar-winning movie (with the always awesome James Mason!), it is also a biblical reference, one of the few gentlemen’s entertainment places to have such a pedigree!

Oscar Wilde, writer of The Picture of Dorian Gray as well as The Centerville Ghost (so he himself was no stranger to paranormal fiction!) wrote a play in Biblical times called Salomé, about the daughter-in-law of King Herod and introduced the concept of the Seventh Veil into his story. The girl performs the Dance of the Seven Veils (something of his complete invention, because the kind of dance is not mentioned in any of the histories) but it was based on the Middle Eastern dances where the girls had veils and Orientalism and Egyptology was very chic at the time – places like the the Oriental Theater and even Hollywood & Highland today were all about that early 20th century fascination with the Middle East!

Ghosts of Hollywood Boulevard Links

Encyclopedia Britannica on Grauman’s Chinese Theatre Haunting

Haunted Hollywood: Where the A-List Ghosts Hang Out, Joal Ryan, Yahoo! omg

The Ghosts and Monsters of the Cursed Griffith Park, Creepy LA

“Haunted Hollywood: 4. Howard Hughes & the Pantages Theater”, Encyclopedia Britannica Blog

This week’s song, “Spotlight” by Sunspot

She always did what what she was supposed to do,
she never cried, or complained.
But she never knew where she was going to,
if this was right, why was it so mundane?

Looking back was a bad dream,
of near misses and lost opportunities,
but when she picks up that mic at Friday Karaoke,
she’s finally who she wants to be.

Whitney Houston or Mariah Carey,
and not the drama of her life.
An American Idol that might be temporary,
She just wants her little place in the spotlight.

She always did what she was told to,
please and thank you, yessir and no ma’am,
but no one cared what she was going through,
work at this, study that, marry him, and don’t look back.

Cuz what she saw was a bad dream,
of near misses and lost opportunities,
but when she picks up that mic at Friday Karaoke,
she’s finally who she wants to be.

Whitney Houston or Mariah Carey,
and not the drama of her life.
An American Idol that might be temporary,
She just wants her little place in the spotlight.

39 – A Deadly Haunting: An Interview With Deborah Moffitt

With notes of The Amityville Horror, Poltergeist, and even the under appreciated (in Mike’s opinion anyway) Dead Again, Debbie Moffitt’s A Deadly Haunting is a tale of a California family under supernatural siege in the 1980s.

The story begins with a supposed Santeria ritual performed by a Guatemalan caretaker in the house of Deborah’s grandmother-in-law (she was trying to keep the old woman alive so that she could keep her job and not be kicked out of the country), that opened up a doorway to a demon that terrorized the Moffitt family for years.

The activity began in a house they were renting out, where they thought that the tenant was making strange objects appear in the house in locked rooms and was drawing strange symbols on the walls. The tenant denied any wrongdoing, but gave them one day notice and moved out. Then in another house they were renting out, they were asked by the tenant whether or not someone died there. And in their own house, weird stuff (like their tenants’ underwear) kept on showing up in her mother-in-law’s room and objects on the shelves would turn backwards. In the beginning it was like a game, because they would ask this unseen presence to do things, move stuff around, and it did. But for a long time, nothing threatening was happening.

Until they rented the house again to a couple named and Tom and Michelle, and over time Michelle began to show signs of abuse. When Tom moved out under mysterious circumstances and a stranger later told her that Michelle was found in a landfill, the phenomena started getting more sinister.

When they moved into a new house, they didn’t think that the presence was following them, but three weeks into their new home, a message was left in soap on their mirror, “Talk to me”. And then messages started appearing regularly on the mirror, strange symbols started appearing on the walls, and telling them not to go into the attic. At this point, the whole family became very isolated and wouldn’t have people over to the house except for paranormal investigators (including an associate of our former guest, Loyd Auerbach, the couple who hit mainstream consciousness from The Conjuring, Ed and Lorraine Warren, a Voodoo practitioner, and well-known parapsychologist, Dr. Evelyn Paglini) . The presence, which Debbie would call Mister Entity (but asked to be referred to as Prince), focused all his negativity on her mother-in-law, physically assaulting her, ripping up her clothes, and terrorizing her. She claims that the presence didn’t mess with her or her child, but said that her mother-in-law “belongs to him”.

That’s where the story gets medieval, where Mister Entity told her that her in a past life, her mother-in-law was promised to him by Satanism-practicing monks in a Seventeenth-Century French monastary as a sacrifice. But when the ritual didn’t go down, the presence said that it didn’t matter and he still wanted her even after hundreds of years. And her father-in-law was one of those Satanic monks.

So the relationship between her in-laws starts deteriorating, and a spear even appears in the bed next to her mother-in-law and Mister Entity says that he wants the father-in-law to perform a “blood ritual” on her. Deborah refused, angering the demon, and the terror continued until 1992.

A Deadly Haunting Links

Deborah’s Website, A Deadly Haunting

This Week’s Song: The Keep On The Borderlands by Sunspot

Some days you are my prisoner,
some days you are my guard,
sometimes you are the one thing,
between me and the Dark.

And all the safe and reassuring words,
couldn’t protect any of the herd from,
self-loathing and boredom.
So lock your doors, don’t make eye contact,
and maybe you’ll get out intact,
humbled, embarrassed and ignoble.

So keep on,
keep on,
keep on,
keep on.

37 – The Roswell Slides: Donald Schmitt and America’s Most Infamous UFO Crash

The Roswell Slides are on all paranormal lovers’ tongues this week as they get ready for a huge unveiling in Mexico City on May 5th. Well, to get ready for it, we’re going in on the grandaddy of all US UFO cases, the famous crash in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. It’s the story that’s been made famous by countless television recreations on shows like Unsolved Mysteries or Sightings as well as several books about the event.

Mike and Wendy Lynn go deep into the history of the case for those of you who might not know all the theories and the stories, starting with the “flying saucer mania” of 1947 that started it all, to the debris found by Mac Brazel, to the press release sent by the Roswell Air Field saying they found a flying saucer and later denial, saying it was just a weather balloon.

The history of the mythos surrounding Roswell as we know it really starts in 1980 with the publication of a book, The Roswell Incident, and that’s where it starts to get interesting, rumors of alien bodies taken back and dissected, pop culture mentions in Independence Day, Alien Autopsy specials on FOX in the 1990s, controversy with the investigators (including today’s interviewee, Donald Schmitt), stories about mutant children, hey look, it’s even former President Bill Clinton chiming in!

Once we get through the history, we do an in-depth exclusive interview with Donald Schmitt who has investigated and will be part of the team presenting the Roswell Slides on May 5th at an event in Mexico City hosted by Jaime Maussan, sometimes known as the “Mexican Art Bell”.

Schmitt’s first book, UFO Crash at Roswell, was the basis for the Golden Globe-nominated Showtime film, Roswell, (starring Kyle MacLachlan and Martin Sheen) and we talk about how he went from UFO investigator to UFO author to a consultant on a major film.

Then we get into what everyone’s been waiting for, the Roswell Slides, which are Kodachromes that might show non-human bodies being worked on in the 1940s and the pictures were originally taken by someone with a connection to President Eisenhower. We go in deep on the slides, how they were found, how they were investigated, and a preview of what the big presentation is going to be on May 5th.

Roswell Slides Links:

Roswell Investigator, Thomas Carey and Donald Schmitt’s website

BeWitness May 5th Live Streaming from Mexico City Pay-Per-View

This Week’s Song: “Don’t Shoot First” by Sunspot

don’t believe everything you read
don’t believe everything you see
you don’t have to understand
you don’t have to be my friend
you might not like what I have to say to you
but that don’t mean it’s not the truth

don’t shoot first
this messenger has traveled
so far from home
don’t shoot first
I only came to tell you
you’re not alone.

when you just can’t see past your nose
you think that all your doors are closed

you don’t have to understand
but one day you’ll have to comprehend
You might not like what I have to say to you
But that don’t mean it’s not the truth

don’t shoot first
this messenger has traveled
so far from home
don’t shoot first
I only came to tell you
you’re not alone.

36 – Paranormal Lit 101: Victorian Horror with Brian J. Showers

Joining Mike and Wendy today is Swan River Press publisher and author, Brian J. Showers. Brian is a college friend of both of them and left to live Dublin, Ireland in 2001.  Since leaving, Brian has written several books and become a publisher of all kinds of Gothic ghost stories as well as an expert in Victorian Horror.

They begin the conversation by discussing Brian’s interest in weird stuff, which began with Haunted Wisconsinwhich showed him that you could have legends and haunted history right in your backyard and it didn’t have to be in a Transylvanian castle. The conversation turns to other great Wisconsin connections to the weird like Arkham House in Sauk City, Wisconsin which published Lovecraft, to The Ridgeway Phantom.

When Brian moved to Ireland and found out that influential Victorian Horror writer, J. Sheridan Le Fanu was buried right up the street, he was influenced to learn more about his neighborhood, the Rathmines, in Dublin. In addition to writing a book on a walking tour of his new city,  he edited a book of short stories inspired by Le Fanu, and then wrote a collection of ghost stories inspired by the Rathmines – becoming more connected to Dublin by creating more weird and the wonderful tales of the Irish capital.

Dreams of Shadow and Smoke: Stories for J.S. Le Fanu

 

The conversation then turns into more of how the Victorian Horror story has influenced so much of modern culture and how in that era, Spiritualism (with mediums, séances, and the like) became a gigantic cultural phenomena, and its fiercest proponent was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. We talk about the friendship between Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini (another Wisconsin connection, he was raised in Appleton and lived in Milwaukee for three years), who was a great Spiritualist debunker.

That brings us to Wendy’s story of getting a private tour of Swiss home as a foreign exchange student and Mike brings up his favorite episode of the show, Voyagers!

Victorian Horror and Paranormal Literature Links

Swan River Press

The Bleeding Horse and Other Ghost Stories

More details on the friendship between Conan Doyle and Houdini

Announcement for new Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini TV Show 

 Featured Song: Carmilla by Sunspot

Proper little misses sharing,
little bloody kisses,
and every fire starts from just a spark.
Our secret experiments,
on your angel innocence,
don’t matter what you look like in the dark.Just you wait until the sun goes down, down, down.
when she whispers you’re hers forever now.Carmilla,
desire comes at you sideways,
Carmilla,
Would you dare to speak her name?

Pretty porcelain cheeks,
tender sweet little tweaks,
I’m getting sick of always pretending.
Just a few more sleepless nights,
I know you’ll hold our secrets tight,
I’ll miss our visits more than anything.

Just you wait until the sun goes down, down, down.
when she whispers you’re hers forever now.

Carmilla,
desire comes at you sideways,
Carmilla,
Would you dare to speak her name?

35 – Sympathy For The Devil: What Lovecraft and ISIS Get Wrong About The Yazidi

Joining Mike and Wendy today is Milwaukee Ghosts’ founder, Allison Jornlin, for a discussion about a Kurdish ethnic and religious group currently in the news for being attacked by ISIS, the Yazidi. You guys remember The Kurds, right? They’re the ethnic group who believes in women’s rights and is cool with democracy, basically they’re the good guys in the Middle East whom the rest of the people in the area are constantly persecuting. Saddam Hussein loved to “re-educate them” and the Islamic State isn’t much nicer to them. Well, one of the reasons that the Yazidi is so unpopular in the halls of Middle East High is because Sunni Muslims believe that the group worships the Devil. Yeah, that sounds bad, and that’s why we get at the heart of the truth in this episode.

To get the conversation started right, they discuss current beliefs about The Devil, as the Vatican hosts a special exorcism course this week in Italy (they’re calling it a pastoral emergency.)

In the Yazidi religion, which borrows heavily from Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Zoroastrianism, when their lead angel Taus Melek (they call him the Peacock Angel, and use Avian imagery to describe him), originally refused to bow to Adam (of Adam & Eve, Garden of Eden fame) , it’s similar to the pride that leads to the Fall of Lucifer in Christian mythology. But instead of pride, Taus Melek refuses to bow to Adam because the human is an earthly creation and not a heavenly one. He has a disagreement with God, but in the end, they make up and the Peacock Angel ends up feeling bad for what he has done and reconciles with the Almighty. So, one of the major figures in their religion is basically a redeemed version of Satan. And that’s where the misconceptions come in.

H.P. Lovecraft famously makes them the bad guys in his short story, “The Horror at Red Hook”:

“Most of the people, he conjectured, were of Mongoloid stock, originating somewhere in or near Kurdistan—and Malone could not help recalling that Kurdistan is the land of the Yezidis, last survivors of the Persian devil-worshippers.”

We made Wendy read one of the author’s most notoriously racist and lazy stories for this episode and we find out what happens when we sacrifice a virgin at the altar of Cthulhu.

But Lovecraft isn’t the only one, The Exorcist, uses Yazidi imagery as well in their portrayal of Pazuzu, the demon who takes over the body of Linda Blair’s character in the film. The avian imagery of the idol that Father Merrin (Max Von Sydow, the “old” exorcist) encounters in his travels through Iraq is one of Hollywood’s most famous visual depictions of The Devil. Basically, they took a Yazidi image, Taus Melek, and told everyone that it was going to possess the souls of their daughters – can you see why these poor people get such an unjust reputation?

We get into a little more of the Yazidi creation myth, appropriate because Wednesday April 15th was the Yazidi New Year, so Happy New Year, Yazidis! And then we finish up the episode with this week’s song.

 

Yazidi Links

The Vatican, “Course of Exorcism, Prayer, and Liberation”

CNN, “A Yazidi captive’s tale: Sold by ISIS as a sex slave”

H.P. Lovecraft, “The Horror At Red Hook”

The Exorcist Connection, The Telegraph, “The Devil Worshippers of Iraq”

Featured Song: Barbwire Heart by Sunspot

Hold my outrage tight to me,
Righteousness like a shield.
My indignation,
is a wound I’ll never heal,Slights and jabs and every little pain,
Long memory plays every scar again.

In this barbwire heart,
beats my rosary,
without its angry rhythm,
I don’t know who I’d be.

Picking my scabs bloody,
Reinfected every sore,
Every step I take is,
Towards evening the score.

Slights and jabs and every little pain,
Long memory plays every scar again.

In this barbwire heart,
beats my rosary,
without its angry rhythm,
I don’t know who I’d be.

33 – The Truth Is Back: The Real X-Files Behind Four Classic Episodes

The X-Files was the breakout science fiction phenomenon of the 1990s. No other program captured the zeitgest of conspiracy theories, big government paranoia, alien abduction mythology, Gen X individualism, and post-80s seriousness as well as creator Chris Carter’s show, that on paper, probably looked like a ridiculous blend of The Silence of the Lambs and Kolchak: The Night Stalker.

So when FOX announced at the end of March that The X-Files was returning to television 22 years after it debuted, it was big news.

As two people who experienced The X-Files the first time around, Mike and Wendy talk about their experiences with the show (Mike was a true believer, hosted X-Files parties, and even read the comics.) We go into detail about Mike’s love of the show. Here’s a picture of Mike and his wife at a costume wedding in 2013 – note, Mike’s X-Files Division badge is something that he bought at Gen Con in 1996 (when he played The X-Files Collectible Card Game with Langly and Frohike of The Lone Gunmen!)

World’s worst Mulder and Scully? #halloween #wedding #x-files

A photo posted by sunspotmike (@sunspotmike) on


And to celebrate the return of the show, Mike and Wendy picked 4 real X-Files that inspired the paranormal stories.

They first talk about the episode, “Field Trip”, which is based on the idea of hallucinogenic fungus and shared hallucinations and Mulder and Scully get trapped in a giant cave with a fungus that’s slowly killing them while indulging them in fantasy . Mike and Wendy discuss the episode and a little bit about how madness can be passed from one person to the next.

Next up is stigmata, which is where someone exhibits the wounds of Jesus (perfect for an episode on Easter Weekend!), the real X-File behind the episode “Revelations” is based on reports from all the way back to the 13th Century with the famous St. Francis of Assisi being the first recorded stigmatic.

The alien/human hybrid is a theme that runs through the real X-File of the alien abduction narrative. Female abductees have claimed that they’ve been impregnated by aliens, run through an accelerated gestation process, and then the baby is taken from them. They remember this trauma through hypnosis and The X-Files used the idea of an alien/human hybrid in the form of a child chess prodigy, Gibson Praise, who was wanted by the US Government as well as the alien invasion force.

Finally, Mike and Wendy talk about the strange history of sin eaters, a tradition from the end of the Enlightenment, where families would pay someone to “eat the sins” of a loved one who had passed, so that the sins would transfer to the eater and the loved one would be free of sin to enter Heaven. The X-Files episode, “The Gift”, deals with a sin eater who can eat the diseases from sick people and take them unto himself.

Then they finish up with a song inspired by the news of the return of The X-Files, a comical warning to Chris Carter and FOX – “Don’t Mess This Up”.

Real X-Files Links

Official FOX announcement about the return  of The X-Files

“Reopening The X-Files:  ‘Field Trip””, Tor.com
“Shared Hallucination?”, shroomery.org Forum Discussion
Wikipedia entry on Folie deux (shared dementia)
“11 Odd Facts about Magic Mushrooms”, Livescience

The X-Files, “Revelations” (Watch on Daily Motion)
Stigmata, Catholic Encyclopedia 

The X-Files wiki, Gibson Praise (alien/human hybrid)
Alien/Human Hybrid, Arturi Extraterrestrial Community

The X-Files, “The Gift” (Watch on Daily Motion)
“The Weird But True History of Sin-Eaters”, io9

 

Song: Don’t Mess This Up by Sunspot

They’re using my nostalgia and they’re trying to make money on my youth,
They’re bringing back The X-Files and they think that I still care about the truth.
They’re making me feel old when they dig up all the actors,
at least I’m in a demographic that still matters,
I still curse the Lone Gunmen and their luck,
and I think I can speak for all of us,
Don’t mess this up, yeah.
Don’t mess this up.
I’m looking at you, Chris Carter.
We’ve been burned before from Jar Jar Binks to Indy 4, don’t you see,
It’s been reboots up the tail and they all just add up to fail, you just want more money.
So let’s put on some Spice Girls like it’s 1997
Pop open a Surge and watch a little Seventh Heaven,
But don’t you dare talk about conspiracies after 9/11,
But I think that I can speak for all of us when I say,
Don’t mess this up, yeah.
Don’t mess this up, here we go.
They’ll never bring back Firefly,
No matter how you scream and cry.
They’ll never bring back Firefly,
No matter how you scream and cry.
They’ll never bring back Firefly,

No matter how you scream and cry.

They’ll never bring back Firefly,
No matter how you scream and cry.
They’re using my nostalgia and they’re trying to make money on my youth,
They’re bringing back the X-Files and they think that I still care about the truth.
I Want To Believe was definitely not it.
It was cool you made a second one    but next time get a script,
Can you even show the Smoking Man with a cigarette that’s lit?
I speak for every thirtysomething when I say
Don’t mess this up, yeah.
Don’t mess this up, yeah.
Don’t mess this up.