Category Archives: Blog

Disinformation: The Return of The X-Files

(WARNING: This blogpost contains spoilers for the first two episodes of Season 10, the majestic return of The X-Files, so watch  the new episodes, eh? They’re streaming for FREE on right now)

They’re back!

So, how about it? They had me at the original opening credits. It’s been almost twenty-two years since we first heard Mark Snow’s spooky opening theme and saw “The Truth Is Out There”. Man, it really brought back all the memories. I was a MONSTER fan of the show (as if you didn’t already know.) In college, we used to all watch it in our dorm room common area and we wouldn’t go out on Friday nights until the show was over. It was the show that brought everyone together.

I even kept watching during the so-so Season 7 (the one that had an episode with Kathy Griffin and a pro wrestler), Season 8 (which was Duchovny-lite because he was working on his movie career)  and Season 9, which was on an upswing, but it had to end because September 11th kind of took the fun out of government conspiracies for most people.

With X-FIles: I Want To Believe (the second movie) flopping at the box office and then 2012 passing us by without new material (the alien invasion was supposed to take place that year), I thought that was the end for one of my favorite shows. But no!

So, it’s been months of anticipation. What are they going to concentrate on in these six episodes, who are going to be the new bad guys? How are they going to bring Cancer Man back to life after he was blown up in the desert in the final episode? We had a special podcast about some of our favorite episodes based on real-life cases (Episode 33 – The Truth Is Back) and wrote a song about the new series called “Don’t Mess This Up”.

So, did they mess it up? I know a lot of critics seemed underwhelmed by the first episode and while the dialogue was a bit clunky during Mulder and Scully’s argument on the porch (show don’t tell, Chris Carter!), but I like where they’re going with everything. The conspiracies fit perfectly into the second decade of the Twenty-First Century. Joel McHale’s character is basically an ultra-wealthy Alex Jones and it looks like they took the new conspiracy right off of

So, they speculate that the UFO crash at Roswell was real and that the government reverse engineered the alien spacefaring and stealth technology and has been carrying out secret experiments on women (including Scully) by impregnating them with fetuses laced with alien DNA and have been masquerading as aliens the whole time in order to throw investigators off the scent of the real perpetrators and they’re setting the planet up for a one-world government (a little John Birch Society anti-Communist conspiracy in there for ya!)

David Duchovny doing his best rugged Harrison Ford impersonation here…

Does this mesh with the old mythology? A little, but not a lot. Considering the old conspiracies of the show got real messy after Season 5, I’m okay with it, and it fits with a more modern take. I’ve said this before, but prior to our interview with Robbie Graham in our “Silver Screen Saucers” episode, I had legitimately never thought that the government would want people to believe that they were colluding with aliens. I mean, why would they want their own people to think that they’re secretly hiding one of the biggest stories of all time, that we’re not alone in the universe?

Disinformation, baby. When you’re not fighting any actual physical battles like in the Cold War, then the rumors of your power are just as important as your power. It’s kind of like why new inmates will fight the baddest meanest guy they can when right when they get sent to prison. You create an aura around yourself of toughness, and nothing’s tougher than your enemy thinking that you have secret alien technology in your war machine. And in the show, the conspiracy is all about covering their tracks until they invade the United States.

The second episode (“Founder’s Mutation”) was just like going home again. It didn’t have to do any narrative lifting, the team was back together and it was just like the wonderful old days of Mulder and Scully hitting the pavement and looking for the paranormal. Now the conspiracy is using those alien DNA babies to make psychic-powered superheroes. I can’t be the only one that got a Quicksilver/Scarlet Witch vibe from Kyle and Molly shattering glass and throwing people across the room with their Force alien mind powers.

In the age of The “Patriot” Act, Edward Snowden, and the Carnivore e-mail spy program, we’ve got brand new reasons to be paranoid and question Authority. Thank God we’ve got Special Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully back to investigate.

Why Would Terrorists Attack the Milwaukee Masonic Temple?

On Monday, January 25th, the FBI just barely stopped a terrorist attack at the Milwaukee Masonic Temple, where  a twenty-three year old man was planning on carrying out a mass shooting and dreamed of killing thirty or more people in the name of Islam. Samy Mohamed Hamzeh was just a personal trainer in Milwaukee who made the decision that he wanted to kill people to strike fear into the hearts of the infidel.

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Do you even kill people, bro?

Terror doesn’t have a military strategy, it’s designed to break down the morale of non-combatants.  I’ve often said that if terrorists wanted to really scare the United States they would’t attack New York City or Los Angeles, they’d attack smaller cities in the USA, and particularly in the Midwest, to show that no one is safe. And being a native to the area, this was particularly scary. Milwaukee did have  a white supremacist mass shooting at a Sikh Temple in 2012 and that guy was even worse. He was a musician as well as embarrassingly stupid and tried to start some kind of Holy Race War by attacking the Sikhs, who are non-violent, but wear turbans (like I said, embarrassingly stupid.)

But why attack the Milwaukee Masonic Temple? What did they do to Samy Mohamed Hamzeh? Here’s what the would-be terrorist said:

“They are all Masonic; they are playing with the world like a game, man, and we are like asses, we don’t know what is going on, these are the ones who are fighting, these are the ones that needs to be killed, not the Shi’ite (Mike’s note: another branch of Islam), because these are the ones who are against us, these are the ones who are making living for us like hell”

That’s a good boy, that’s a really good boy, now let’s go kill people!

“These are the ones who are making living for us like hell” – the Masons? You mean the guys who drive the little cars from the Circus? (No, that’s Shriners, but the Shriners did develop from Freemasonry…) But it’s a society that keeps some of its initiation rituals secret and its membership often includes a lot of prominent individuals in the community. It’s a club with secrets that has business leaders, politicians, and rich people as members. It’s pretty easy to figure why you think that they’re up to no good.

The Freemasons will get their own episode of the See You On The Other Side podcast soon because there’s centuries of conspiracies surrounding them. The idea is that this secret society presents themselves as charitable citizens who are getting together to perform good works, really they are a criminal organization who controls the media and has a sinister agenda.

I’m sure there are bad Freemasons and I’m sure a judge or a cop has let one of his Masonic brothers off easy a few times. But are these low level Milwaukee masons really the kind of world dominators that make life a living Hell for Muslim fitness trainers in the Brew City?

This is why it’s important to pay attention to conspiracy theories in real life as well as in Pop Culture (like these “Top Ten Masonic Conspiracy Theories“)? Because sometimes those theories can provide excuses and justification for killing innocent people.

RIP Abe Vigoda – The Rumors of His Demise Are No Longer Greatly Exaggerated

When I was a little boy, I loved watching Barney Miller with my Dad and Fish was one of the funniest characters. I didn’t really see and understand The Godfather until I was into my teens, so Fish is my biggest memory of the man. People Magazine accidentally reported him as dead in 1982  and a reporter did it in 1987 as well. And you gotta admit, he looked ancient in the 1970s when he was playing Detective Phil Fish on Barney Miller and so the joke that Abe Vigoda wasn’t really dead went on for decades.

David Letterman had a great skit where they even had Abe Vigoda breathe on a mirror in 1988 to prove that he was still alive, as well as a later one where he tries to contact the actor’s ghost in a mock seance only to have him appear and call Dave a pinhead.

I remember first looking at and thinking it was hilarious in 1996 because I was young and stupid. It was the first real novelty site I saw on the Internet because it’s sole purpose was was to let people know if the actor was still with us or has passed on. Well, today, January 26th, 2016 he finally did pass on at the ripe age of 94 years old.

With people making jokes about his death for over thirty years, that’s gotta be some kind of record. Firefox even released a joke web browser extension in 2005 to answer the question of whether or not he was still alive.

Someone made a parody of Bauhaus’ “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” and had that song linked from the website – that’s right, someone took his name for a and then just made it about whether he was still alive or not. I don’t care who you are, that’s some dark business.

Never has the twilight of someone’s career been so defined by the question of whether or not they’re dead, and he handled it with a ton of grace.

So RIP Abe Vigoda, you were great in The Godfather as well as Barney Miller and got to live a nice long life, so thanks!

Moog at NAMM 2016: Synthesizers and the Sound of Horror

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One of the most fun exhibits at the NAMM Show in 2016 was the Moog exhibit. Now you may have never heard of the Moog company, but I guarantee you have heard their synthesizers. Bob Moog was an innovator who helped popularize the use of the electronic devices in music.

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The exhibit was all about replicating a Florida island that a particularly inventive Moog synthesizer salesman set up to promote more synthesizer sales by having electronic concerts and light shows in the early 70s. The island was called “Electronicus“.

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The real fun was sitting down at the synthesizers and playing with the various settings that you could use to make music. And every time you started playing something, it felt like you were performing the soundtrack to a horror movie.

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That’s because besides dance music and progressive rock, there’s been no more prolific use of electronic music than horror movies. From the theremin (a very early electronic instrument that makes the spooky high-pitched “woooooooo” sound that we often associate with horror movie soundtracks) that was used in soundtracks like The Day The Earth Stood Still and The Thing From Another World to “Tubular Bells” that was used as the theme to The Exorcist, horror movies love using the synthesizer.

This article on Horrorpedia is a must-read as it traces the sound of synths in horror films over the decades and what makes it extra fun at the NAMM Show is that it doesn’t just honor the artists who use these tools to make music, but it honors the people who create the instruments in the first place.

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There’s lots of ways to be creative and making art or music is one of those ways, but there’s often just as much, if not more, creative genius in the manufacturing of the devices that make all of the art possible. And the innovation of Moog gave us some of the most unsettling movie music of all time!

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I played on this sweet synth for a half an hour, there were four different synths that could play at the same time in this one box!

The Haunted Piano at NAMM 2016

One of the coolest things I saw at the 2016 NAMM Show today was this modern update of the player piano. And just take a look at this YouTube video, it doesn’t sound like any kind of player piano that I’ve ever heard…

So they captured the performance of famous Canadian jazz pianist, Oscar Peterson, and this player piano recreates twelve of his performances exactly like he was playing it in front of you. There’s only twelve of these instruments in the world and the technology is beautiful, precise, and amazing.

Even before Bill Murray used the piano to annoy the evil spirits that possessed Dana Barrett’s apartment, ghosts playing the piano was something they used in horror films to great effect (the piano in The Changeling is the first one that comes to my mind) and we talked about Byron Janis’ (the paranormal pianist) encounters with Liberace’s ghost not too long ago.

Even the Paranormal State crew hooked up with paranormal  investigator Lorraine Warren (of The Conjuring fame) to check out a piano that might have brought a ghost along with it.

And if you’re looking for more real life haunted piano ghost stories here’s a good one on Reddit and also someone shares their terrifying tale in this forum thread on about an old piano that was playing itself.

My personal favorite though is this tale of an eight-year old girl seeing a pale woman playing her family’s piano in the middle of the night and the ghost gesturing for the girl to come over and join her in a supernatural duet.

But this Oscar Peterson piano  is like a performance from the musician’s ghost – people who would like to learn playing piano but being sensitive to such things should be better chosing from – piano keyboard here should not perform any supernatural surprises. So, the music on the “ghost piano” is still being created live, it’s just his imprint that’s playing it, the recording of what he left behind – just like we think is sometimes saved in the walls of old buildings and when people see ghosts, it could be the “recording” that’s being played back. This piano is just like that, but it’s no mystery, just amazing technological innovation.

This Week’s Planetary Alignment and The X-Files

You can bet a pack of Morley cigarettes and bag of sunflower seeds that I’m excited about The X-Files returning this Sunday night. But it’s not just Mulder and Scully that are going to be gracing our lives once again, it’s also the beginning of the first planetary alignment in the sky that’s going to be visible to our naked eye in over a decade. Oh yeah, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn are all going to be lined up and easily visible looking like stars lined (and on January 28th, even the moon is going to get in on the action and be lined up as well!) Now if you’re interested in viewing this cool astronomical phenomena then you can get help with that from the fine scientific writers at National Geographic.

TV shows and movies love to tackle the alignments of planets and stars in the sky and give them some kind of significance. Like we’re dumb enough to believe that when everything in the sky lines up, something horrible is going to happen. Yes, even my beloved Doctor Who had a ridiculous episode where the Daleks aligned 27 planets to make a (ahem) reality bomb.

The X-Files gave planetary alignments a special significance in season three as well with their episode “Syzygy” (also known as the episode where Scully gets jealous of the local detective that Mulder has been hanging out with). A syzygy is a term for an alignment of three celestial objects and it’s that alignment on a particular night in the 1970s that creates some very intense energy for a pair of girls born on that date.

Now szygys where the Sun, Moon, and Earth line up are known to cause “moonquakes” and I didn’t know moonquakes were a thing up until now, so that’s kind of awesome, but aside from fiction from Lovecraft to Pitch Black dealing with the apocalyptic aspects of an astronomical alignment, there’s not much else that’s going to happen except a sweet light show.

There are some people that believe planets aligning for a massive New Age Harmonic Convergence in 1987 was a big supernatural deal that was going to lead to the building of a thing called the Rainbow Bridge that was going to envelope the Earth in a aura of positivity (man), but the only Rainbow Road I’ve ever seen is in Mario Kart.

Ima Wario and Ima gonna win!

Anyway, if you’re looking for a mystical aspect, this author believes that there is a spiritual component to this week’s planetary alignment and it’s basically the fact that each of the five planets that are going to be lined up are associated with some aspect of our personality when it comes to Astrology, so if you’re into Horoscopes it’s a nice hopeful (and harmless) article.

But with new X-Files and a planetary alignment to light up the sky, our eyes have lots to look forward to!

The Best Occult Imagery at NAMM 2016

I’m at the NAMM 2016 Show this week, which is the National Association of Music Merchants, it’s where musical instrument companies, music dealers, recording equipment companies, etc… all get together to show off their latest and greatest stuff. It’s in Anaheim, California right next to Disneyland, and 140,000 musicians, gearheads, salespeople, and techies from all over the world converge and take over this Orange County city and it’s long hair, dye jobs, tattoo sleeves, and leather jackets as far as the eye can see.

One of the most fun things about the conference is that guitar companies will bring their most outrageous guitars, instruments not that don’t sell that much, maybe, but are showcases for the huge amount of talent that their best craftsmen have. These guys and gals can make unbelievably beautiful instruments and it is terribly exciting to see the most well-crafted and gorgeous instruments ever made.

The occult and rock n’ roll have been linked since Robert Johnson sold his soul at the crossroads and themes of horror have run through the music from Screamin’ Jay Hawkins to Alice Cooper to Marilyn Manson and in the modern era with Ghost. Skulls have always been a popular symbol for high testosterone males. In the old days, it was a symbol for all the people that they had defeated in battle, today it represents the aggressive style and fearlessness in the face of mortality that rock n’ roll music has long stood for. But the devil, the Illuminati, and horror movies were all well represented today and here are some of the most fantastic guitars and accessories with occult imagery that I’ve seen at the NAMM 2016 Show so far!

Was Glenn Frey A Secret Satanist?

The Heat Is Off as another Classic Rock hero passed over to the other side this week. Glenn Frey, most famous as the founder of the Eagles, the California Country-Rock powerhouse that provided the soundtrack of much of the 1970s and much of the income for the Golden State’s cocaine dealers , died on Monday January 18th. I’ve been on record saying that “Hotel California” is the song that made me want to play guitar and Glenn Frey was the lyricist who gave us those wonderfully cryptic lyrics. And with imagery that includes trying to “kill the beast” and a requests for wine (a liquid with lots of religious significance!), is the Eagles’ most famous track really about Satan?

Well, that was an urban legend going around in the Satanic Panic 80s. In fact, there was a great article in the now-defunct Milwaukee Sentinel (and media consolidation is just as scary as anything we talk about on this site) about the Good Reverend Paul Risley who held a rally in Racine, Wisconsin in September of 1982, where 900 people(!) came out to see him tell examples of rock n’ rollers purposely leading their fans to the Devil.

Here’s an excerpt from the newspaper article:

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My favorite part is that there were some pro-Rock youths that showed up to shout the Reverend down and one of them even got arrested for disorderly conduct. Notice that they spell Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey’s name wrong, so I guess the Sentinel didn’t have much of a copy editor in 1982.

But is the song really about the place where the Satanic Bible was written? Is the Church of Satan really registered as “Hotel California” for tax purposes? Are the frickin’ Eagles devil worshipers?!

Here’s a guy that seems to think so, even as late as 2014 and even provides us with  detailed analysis of the lyrics. And with quotes like “when you sell your soul to the devil for fame in music, he also wants you to openly show signs of it” and “So it looks like the Eagles are singing this for the antichrist”, you know you have to check that article out.

Perhaps the example that’s most widely used of this song being dedicated to the Devil is that the inside cover of the album has a creepy guy looking over everyone and it’s supposed to be Anton LaVey, who created the modern Church of Satany4auurjefid2vgldnxib

Here it is blown up, and I guess it might look like a bald guy with a goatee, but c’mon, that’s really really subtle.


Anyway, Snopes does a wonderful job of debunking the entire urban legend. “Anton LaVey” is really a woman who was hired for the photo shoot, and it was at the Beverly Hills Hotel, not some Satanic temple. This song is really just about the West Coast music industry in the 1970s. These guys were on the top of the world and living it up in the most decadent era since Ancient Rome with the world, women, money, drugs, and anything that they wanted at their fingertips.

“Her mind is Tiffany-twisted” is about the famous jewelry retailer, the spirit of 1969  is the death of the idealism of the hippie counterculture, “you can check out anytime but you can never leave” is about addiction, and the whole song is about the gaping maw of music celebrity that was engulfing the band as they were nearing the peak of their popularity.

The funny thing is that it’s the Eagles. If it was Black Sabbath or Led Zeppelin, I get it. Those guys used occult imagery and had a dark hard rock sound. But the Eagles didn’t use that kind of imagery or sing dark music. Their songs were catchy and fun. They were world-class hedonists, but Satanists? Hardly!

RIP Glenn Frey, thanks for one of my favorite songs and I hope I’m right and that you’re on your way upstairs right now.

True Detective and the Steven Avery Cult Connection

Like most of you who had some free time over the Holidays, I enjoyed myself a little bit of the ol’ “Netflix and Chill”. And my sedative of choice was Making A Murderer. I can’t help it, yes, I am addicted as much as everyone else to this true crime phase of Pop Culture. I listen to Serial, I was just as shocked at the ending of The Jinx as everyone else. I know that these are sensationalized accounts of real people’s lives. I know that my outrage has been elicited by design. Yet, somehow this foreknowledge of manipulation doesn’t change my interest in the twisted case of Steven Avery or the depressing case of Brendan Dassey. So, I read on every article and criminal records search associated with it, and everyone from The New York Times to Buzzfeed has anticipated our interest and used it to their clickbait-y advantage.

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How many times have you seen this picture over the last month?

I can’t help it, I’m in Wisconsin and paid attention to the story as it happened the first time. One of my good friends was on the Innocence Project at the law school of UW-Madison right before Steven Avery went on trial the second time (she was talking about him as one of their great successes), my wife went to high school in Manitowoc (she exclaimed at one point in the show how her next-door neighbor was on the witness stand!), one of the people I work with in music mentioned how his neighbor was the woman who did the (flawed) DNA testing of the key. These were all people that are in my life. When do most people ever get that close to a national phenomenon without being in it? Of course it’s going to fascinate me!

True crime is one thing (and I know that murder is tragic, no one’s downplaying that) but when people start looking for paranormal explanations, that’s where I start getting really interested. Because this is when we get beyond regular human interest and start entering a different level of conspiracy theory. Sure, it’s one thing to say that the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department planted some evidence. Sgt. Colborn plays a wonderful patsy and Lieutenant Lenk is the cold middle manager whose job it is to make the frame up work. But what if it goes way deeper than that? What if it goes into True Detective Season One (the good season) territory?

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The Yellow King lives in the Fox Valley and this Lone Star Beer can prove it! 

First, Coast to Coast AM (with Twin Cities host Dave Schrader from Darkness Radio taking the lead) featured a special episode on the case, with the last hour devoted to a retired police detective who believes it might be the work of a Satanist serial killer named Edward Wayne Edwards (who the author also connects to California’s infamous Zodiac Killer) who was caught in 2009 in Jefferson, Wisconsin and admitted to five murders. John A. Cameron claims however that Edwards has killed dozens of more victims over the course of a six-decade murder spree where he framed many other innocent people and Steven Avery was just one of his last victims. Now the tale is pretty unbelievable for sure, but Cameron does his best to make a compelling case and even suspects Edwards of dressing up like Santa to perform JonBenét Ramsey’s 1996 mureder as well as killing people on Aleister Crowley’s birthday October 12th. Cameron turns Edwards into some kind of murdering superman and while the evidence is weak, it’s a compelling read.

But the idea of a Satanic murder of Theresa Halbach has also been floating around on that bastion of constructive discussions, Reddit. In this particular thread, people theorize that a Satanic Sex Club might be the ones who murdered the poor girl. Why? Because it was Halloween of course! Okay, Manitowoc is a small city, how would some kind of secret Satanic sex club go around unnoticed? Quick answer. It was noticed. Hat tip to Cult of Weird for sharing this story about a man named Dave Begotka, who has created a series of YouTube videos about how there’s a secret Satanic cult in Wisconsin’s Fox Valley.

I’m not trying to be judge-y, but his old channel was called DrNephilim666, so I think he might be an old hat when it comes to wacky theories. However, Dave has a detailed story on his website about how he was invited to join this secret sex club in Manitowoc by a very influential local businessman. It’s got that Eyes Wide Shut vibe, but hopefully it’s not as mind-numbing as that movie turned out to be. The people of Reddit think that Dave Begotka’s story “could be huge!” for the case, but he’s sent the whole story to Avery’s legal team (and my wife even has a crush on Dean Strang now) and they haven’t used it yet, so its credibility is dubious. But that turns this whole thing right into the land of True Detective, just what is going on in Manitowoc County?

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That’s right boys, nothing is sexier than justice!

Anyway, if one thing makes a close-to-home true crime story more exciting, it’s bringing in some kind of occult murder society. It’s like one of my high school urban legends come to life and the whole Internet is getting in on it. There’s not much to these theories right now, but if Avery and Dassey get a second trial and the Defense puts forth a Satanic Sex Club defense, you know we’re going to have to go to the courtroom.

Too Many Ghost Hunters?

An interesting story from CNN this week about the proliferation of ghost investigation groups across the United States since the dawn of the Ghost Hunters in 2004. And not only how ghost investigation groups are hitting the mainstream now but that because there’s so many groups and only so many TV spots and haunted places, that these teams are going into competition against each other for attention.

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I know people love Zak Bagans but did he just ask me, “Do you even lift, bro?”

And it’s true, like comic books, the world of the paranormal has gone from a geeky subculture to big business because producers saw dollar signs. Reality TV is cheap to produce (no matter how much these paranormal investigative groups make off each episode, it’s still nothing compared to a scripted show. There’s no Screen Actors Guild for reality TV stars.) Since the Ghost Hunters debuted, it’s been one more paranormal show after another, from college research groups like Paranormal State to following around a couple of Chicago police officers known as the Paranormal Cops (worth watching for the lovely Chi-cah-go accents alone.)

When I was a kid I would have loved to see all these shows about ghost hunters on the air. When That’s Incrediblehad a seance (with psychic Sylvia Browne!) inside a Toys ‘R Us, it was the most captivating thing that I ever saw.

But now, I can be hardly bothered to watch most of the paranormal shows. I’ve known people who’ve been on reality shows and they’ve told me how much of it is scripted.  We’ve interviewed people who have been featured on haunted specials and they are told to stick to the script no matter what. You just need to take everything you see on TV (including That’s Incredible even if it does feature Pro Football Hall of Famer, Fran Tarkenton, who always sounded like a very reasonable man to me!) with a massive grain of salt. It’s TV, they’re not on a mission to find the truth, they’re on a mission to get viewers so they can sell more ads.

And that’s okay, because it means it’s up to us to decide what to believe and not believe. And the competition is good because it means that hopefully more clear-headed investigations with thorough historical research can win out over guys just yelling at the air while waving around EMF sensors.

I’m all about entertainment, but it’s important to draw a distinction. Before ghost hunters were cool, most of us experienced some kind of ridicule for thinking this stuff was awesome. It’s important not to blend the “entertainment” part of it all (like movies, even great scary movies like The Conjuring that nonetheless stretch the facts) from actual investigation and research, which requires sources of local legends and trying to maintain some reasonable amount of scientific conditions in the field. That means a lot of sitting in the library and a lot of sitting in dark, cold rooms in old houses. But that’s what we signed up for.

Anyway, I love all these new ghost hunters and paranormal investigators because it brings you guys here to our little podcast, blog, and music – as well as to my haunted history tours, so I say, keep the competition coming!