Tag Archives: Hollywood

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?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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?

L Is For Los Angeles: Haunting Pioneers of L.A.

When you think of Los Angeles, images of the glitz and glamour of Hollywood surely come to mind, alongside imagery of traffic and paparazzi. When considering LA’s older ghost stories, you may think of Marilyn Monroe, or silent era icons like Charlie Chaplin or Rudolph Valentino, but LA’s roots go back much further, which some very old structures still remaining, cared for by the watchful spirits of those who helped build (as Steve Martin would misquote in LA Story), “This other Eden… demi-paradise… this ground… this Los Angeles.”

Olvera Street is a marvelously restored, historic section of Los Angeles, just a few blocks from the heart of downtown LA. Spain was aware of the land that would become California and, in 1781, decided to send 11 Mexican families to establish a community here. Russia had already conquered the area we now know as Alaska and the fear was that they would work their way down the Pacific Coast. The first settlements in LA ended up getting washed away by the LA river, but the first community that stuck is this area, originally named (translated) Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels, or Los Angeles for short.

Avila Adobe

Located on the North end of Olvera Street, the Avila Adobe is the oldest standing residence in Los Angeles. The house was built in 1818 by former mayor Francisco Avila. It was built traditionally for the time and culture, originally featuring a flat, tarred roof, utilizing tar from the La Brea Tar Pits, which was grazing land Avila’s cattle.

This house was Avila’s family’s home, though he himself only visited on weekends. However, it was also a grand house to entertain friends, which the Avila family did frequently. Though, no battle took place here, American troops did take over the house for use as a headquarters until the Treaty of Cahuenga was signed, thus ending the Mexican-American War.

Massive earthquakes in 1870 and 1971 damaged the frail house, making it uninhabitable for large stretches of time. Today, thanks to tremendous preservation efforts, a seven-room portion of the house has been restored and can be visited daily for free.

Today, the home is not only frequented by guests, but also by original owner Francisco Avila, who is said to talk the halls and plaza, continuing to look over his impressive homestead and the village he once presided over as mayor. In addition to being seen clearly in the house, in the courtyard and in front of the house, people have also heard his heavy boots as he invisibly wanders the halls of the house. People have also observed shadow people throughout the structure.

Avila’s first wife, Maria, died in 1822. He later remarried to a woman named Encarnación. It is Encarnación’s ghost that is said to also inhabit the house long after her 1855 death. Some witnesses have seen a female form sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch while others have heard the sound of feminine crying within the home, apparently coming from the master bedroom. The belief is that her immense sorrow of learning of her husband’s death is the intense emotion that still plays out, in residual form.

One of Avila Adobe’s Haunted Bedrooms

Today, the home is not only frequented by guests, but also by original owner Francisco Avila, who is said to talk the halls and plaza, continuing to look over his impressive homestead and the village he once presided over as mayor. In addition to being seen clearly in the house, in the courtyard and in front of the house, people have also heard his heavy boots as he invisibly wanders the halls of the house. People have also observed shadow people throughout the structure.

Avila’s first wife, Maria, died in 1822. He later remarried to a woman named Encarnación. It is Encarnación’s ghost that is said to also inhabit the house long after her 1855 death. Some witnesses have seen a female form sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch while others have heard the sound of feminine crying within the home, apparently coming from the master bedroom. The belief is that her immense sorrow of learning of her husband’s death is the intense emotion that still plays out, in residual form.

Just 500 feet to the south, continuing down Olivera Street and through the plaza is the Pico House, a building once considered the most luxurious hotel in Los Angeles. The building was constructed in 1870 by successful businessman and the last governor of Los Angeles while under Mexican rule, Pio Pico.

The Pico House was an immediate success for years upon it’s opening. The 82-room hotel was in high demand through 1900, when the business center of the city shifted south. It was this shift that ended the glory days for this area.

However, even its glory days were not always so glorious. Just days after the city of Chicago burned to the ground in the great fire, a different kind of fire would rage in Los Angeles. A fire made up of vengeance and anger.

This location bordered the original Chinatown and two warring Chinese immigrant associations were battling each other when Jesus Bilderrain, one of only six police officers in Los Angeles, heard shots ring out. He found one Chinese gang member bleeding in the street when he was struck by a non-fatal bullet in the shoulder. Nearby tavern owner, Robert Thompson, came to aid and was eventually shot in the chest and killed. A city already rife with prejudice against the Chinese exploded. A mob stormed Chinatown, indiscriminately attacking any inhabitant they could find. Buildings and storefronts were damaged, easily hundreds of people were beat up and dozens more were hanged to death throughout Chinatown. The majority of the slayings took place just steps from the Pico House, on the land that is now LA’s Union Station.

In the end, at least 17 Chinese were killed, including young boys. Questions persist over Even Builderrain’s story. Was he a hero cop, shot in the line of duty, or was he merely a key member of a murderous lynch mob? Regardless of how it all went down, there is belief that some of those killed are still present at the Pico House. Some of the spirits are apparently vengeful, as an episode of “Ghost Adventures” talked to a security guard who claimed they were kicked in the back of the leg while walking down a staircase.

Additionally, Pio Pico himself is often seen looking over his land from the roof or upper windows of the Pico house. Much like Mayor Avila, he appears to be keeping tabs on the land he presided over in life. It’s also worth noting that, aside from the lit street lamps and the hum of nearby traffic, the setting is preserved, locked in time, so perhaps its this familiarity that makes Olvera Street, the Avila Adobe, the Pico House and a number of other nearby buildings such a desirable place for past tenants to remain, long after their deaths.

231 – The Man Who Knew Too Much: UFOs, Conspiracies, and Murder

This week, there was a plethora of exciting UFO news (well, probably as exciting as we’re going to get until they finally land in our backyard) so we wanted to bring back one of our favorite guests, [Robbie Graham]. Robbie authored the fascinating and insightful book, Silver Screen Saucers as well as editing UFOs: Reframing The Debate, which is one of the most comprehensive looks at the subject of the last decade. Wendy and I talked with Robbie and Scott Markus from WhatsYourGhostStory.com joins us again for the discussion.

Starting out, we had to talk to Robbie about what it was like being on the History Channel juggernaut, Ancient Aliens! He was on the latest episode and he told us what it was like being brought into the study of a millionaire’s home (to make it look a little more intellectual) as well as being remotely directed in London over the Internet from Los Angeles.

Robbie on Ancient Aliens

But just in the news this week, we had to discuss the new article about former Nevada senator Harry Reid coming out of retirement to lobby for more investigation into military reports of UFOs. Roll Call is not your normal UFO publication, it’s a political blog, so it’s always nice to see something weird in there. But why does Harry Reid care so much and why now? The best quote of the entire article is when he talks about Area 51.

“Oh sure, I’ve been to Area 51. I know Area 51. I don’t know if I should say many times, but lots and lots of times. I know Area 51 quite well, I know what they’ve done there,” said Reid. “I don’t know in recent years, of course, but I know what went on there.”

What went on there, Harry, for God’s sakes, what went on there?

But that brings up a bigger point, the existence of extraterrestrials is in the news more than ever. Since the New York Times article in 2017, aliens have snuck more and more in the news, from the latest fast radio bursts from space to the strange Rama-like space objet Oumuamua. And the go-to guy for astronomer credibility seems to be Harvard Professor, Avi Loeb. Now this guy is no slouch when it comes to academic credentials, but he sure is talking about aliens a lot. Is that because they’re getting us ready for disclosure?!

Party On Wayne

More likely, they’re just in it for the clicks. Those stories get shared more than any other and in a quickly shrinking media landscape, views mean money.

But another story that came out this week that I was particularly interested in was the official pronouncement this last week that conspiracy theorist Max Spiers who passed away in Poland mysteriously in 2016, actually died of a drug overdose.

Max Spiers
Max Spiers

It was a tragic end for a young guy (well, kinda young, I would be less than a month older than him, so it hits home for me) and the salacious news stories were filled with tales of cryptic messages sent to his mother and girlfriend in the UK as well as descriptions of him vomiting black bile before expiring. It didn’t help that his friends were telling people that extraterrestrials were mind controlling his behavior. I’m all for a good conspiracy theory and I fully understand that our government isn’t afraid to assassinate people but was a guy who talked about Nazi bases on the moon really getting too close to the truth?

Fascinatingly, that leads to a story from Robbie about how he once was paranoid about his phones being bugged and that he might have been being watched by the CIA while he was investigating another mysterious death, that of Hollywood screenwriter, Gary Devore. First of all, Devore wrote Timecop, the greatest of all Jean-Claude Van Damme films, so we all owe him at least a tiny bit of gratitude for that.

But in the mid-90s, Devore was working on a screenplay about the 1989 U.S. Invasion of Panama. That’s the one that was ordered by former CIA director, George H.W. Bush to capture former CIA operative Manuel Noriega.  My favorite part of the whole invasion (if one can have a favorite part of something that killed 23 US soldiers, 150 Panamanian soldiers, and over 500 Panamanian civilians) is that the U.S. military famously played “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister at an earsplitting volume outside the Vatican Embassy, where Noriega had holed up after being driven from the Capitol.

Could Dee Snider have been in the CIA as well?

While Devore disappeared in 1997, he was on his way to deliver a copy of his latest script, the one about the “real reason” for the  Panama invasion. He never made it and a year later they found his Ford Explorer at the bottom of a California aqueduct. His body was there, but strangely his hands and the script were both missing.

Robbie became obsessed with the case and along with his colleague, Dr. Matthew Alford, they authored an article in The Guardian newspaper talking about Hollywood and the CIA and specifically talking about Gary Devore. Was Robbie getting too close to the truth? Well, in 2012, CIA operative Chase Brandon, who knew Devore well  because he was the CIA liaison to Hollywood, wrote a book called The Cryptos Conundrum. It’s supposedly fiction, but he makes a lot of claims (particularly about Roswell) and in one of the  “fictional scenarios” makes up an investigative journalist who starts exposing too many of the CIA’s plans and then mysteriously suffers a fatal heart attack. The name of this fictional journalist? Robert Graham.

THAT’S $%^ING NUTS. You can read the passages right here in the Google Book version of The Cryptos Conundrum. It’s not really very subtle.

Alford went on to make a documentary about the case in 2014 called The Writer With No Hands.

And speaking of Hollywood, Scott’s favorite story this week is the upcoming 61st anniversary of the Black Dahlia murder, where poor Elizabeth Short was found naked, mutilated and cut in half. It became one of Tinseltown’s most famous and shocking unsolved cases. Los Angeles homicide detective Steve Hodel believes that the killer was his own father(!), Dr. George Hodel, and the new TNT series I Am The Night, will be based on Hodel’s theories. Steve Hodel has also implied that his father was the Zodiac Killer. Happy Father’s Day, yikes!

For this week’s song, we were thinking about the tragedy of Max Spiers’ death and also Robbie’s own story of possibly being surveilled by an intelligence agency while investigating a cover-up. Whether or not you believe in conspiracy theories, from Q Anon to secret supersoldiers, our intelligence agencies wield a scary amount of unchecked power. While a majority of their actions might be in the service of protecting us, is the truth worth getting in their crosshairs?

You wear the truth like a tattoo
You look over your shoulder is there someone right behind you?

Walking too close to the Left Hand Path
Living with a target on your back.

Whispers in the night are beckoning,
to a black magic reckoning,
hidden hands are pulling strings,
and watching everything.
Steer clear of the dangerous kind
a death warrant has been signed.
Don’t fall in love with
The Man Who Knew Too Much.

Just like in Catch-22
Just cuz you’re paranoid don’t mean they’re not out for you.

Just what will you give up for the truth?
Even if it ends up killing you.

Whispers in the night are beckoning,
to a black magic reckoning,
hidden hands are pulling strings,
and watching everything.
Steer clear of the dangerous kind
a death warrant has been signed.
Don’t fall in love with
The Man Who Knew Too Much.

185 – The Oscar Love Curse: Legends and Lore of The Academy Awards

From Joan Crawford to Sandra Bullock, Bette Davis to Hilary Swank,  actresses who win Academy Awards are said to have been cursed in love shortly after. In fact, everyone from Forbes to National Public Radio to The Washington Post have talked about it.

For example, Emma Thompson wins Best Actress for Howard’s End in 1993 and by 1994, it’s revealed that Kenneth Branagh was fooling around with Helena Bonham-Carter on the set of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein a year later. They’re divorced in 1995.

Reese Witherspoon wins for her portrayal of June Carter Cash in Walk The Line in 2006, five months later she is divorced from her husband Ryan Philippe.

Renee Zellweger is dating Jack White (from The White Stripes) in 2004 and she wins Best Supporting Actress for Cold Mountain, several months later, they split up.

And those are just a few of the more modern examples. Hollywood breakups have been happening to Oscar winners since the Academy Awards started, but is there any truth to the “Oscar Love Curse”? And is it always women who are unlucky? What about the Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor winners?

Hollywood Ghost Tour guide and WhatsYourGhostStory.com founder Scott Markus joins Wendy and I to get the facts behind the Oscar Love Curse and we also dish some more fun paranormal facts about Hollywood’s biggest night, The Academy Awards.

oscar love curse
1999 Gwyneth sure seemed happy, two months before her breakup with fellow Oscar winner, Ben Affleck

This week’s song is all about relationships collapsing and the feelings afterwards, it’s Sunspot’s ode to bitter breakups, “Eat Out My Heart”.

I’ve been waiting so long for you to call,
but now you’re finally here and I’m a wreck.
Worked out a little, even did my hair,
but I’m not the man I used to be back there.

I hope you have an ugly boyfriend,
I hope you’re working at a carwash,
I hope your life went down the drain and everything is not okay,
I hope your best years passed you up.

I dodged a bullet,
One or two since then,
You’re not the only one who still calls me up.
I’m still the jerkoff who listens to your problems,
I never told you all the times,
I’d wished you died in a car crash.

I hope you have an ugly boyfriend,
I hope you’re working at a carwash,
I hope your life went down the drain and everything is not okay,
I hope your best years passed you up, I hope your life sucks.

I’m eating out my heart.
I’m eating out my heart.

And I’m not happy for you,
That you’re a better person without me.
I’m so glad you decided to apologize,
When I’m too numb to care,
I’m just too numb to care.

I hope you have an ugly boyfriend,
I hope you’re working at a carwash,
I hope your life went down the drain and everything is not okay,
I hope your best years passed you up.

90 – Houdini & Doyle: The True Story Behind Their Paranormal Bromance

So, Wendy and I recorded this episode while on a trip to the sunny California Dream Factory and saw the previews for a show we’d talked about all the way back in Episode 36 – Paranormal Lit 101: Victorian Horror with Brian J. Showers. Houdini & Doyle is the show that turns the friendship between escape artist Harry Houdini and Sherlock Holmes author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle into a crime solving duo. We haven’t seen it yet, but we thought we’d talk about the real relationship between the two men, who were on very different sides of the Spiritualism equation in the 1920s.

For a fun little side note, we not only went back to visited with rock photographer Jimmy Steinfeldt, the Rock n’ Roll Lens (get his awesome book of rock photography here!) at his studio in Laurel Canyon . Fun fact, it was formerly the home of Gary Kurtz, a producer on Star Wars, but more importantly for us, producer on Return To Oz (which I’ve referenced in this podcast way too many times!)  So that was a nice little dose of extra nerdery for me.

And here’s the nice tribute to Prince that was on the Rock Walk at Guitar Center on Sunset Boulevard.

Lovely tribute to #Prince at the Rock Walk.

A photo posted by sunspotmike (@sunspotmike) on

Spiritualism was the movement that grew to massive heights in the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries. With so many people dying in the American Civil War and the massive loss of life that occurred in the First World War, people were desperate for ways to contact their deceased loved ones. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was one of these, he was always interested in the supernatural, but became obsessed after losing his first wife in 1906 and his son shortly before the end of World War I.

doyle & houdini
Here’s Sir Arthur Conan Doyle with that smoking walrus look that was so hot at the turn of the century.

Spiritualist mediums would hold séances where spirit faces would appear, strange knocks and sounds would respond as answers to questions, ectoplasm would manifest seemingly from nowhere, fingerprints would show up on the table that weren’t from any of the attendees. The mediums said that they could talk to the dead and Conan Doyle ate it right up.

Houdini & Doyle
Houdini gonna getcha!

Harry Houdini was the most famous magician in the world and it wasn’t uncommon for performers like himself to claim that they had real supernatural powers. But when his beloved mother passed away, Harry was desperate to talk to her again. He attended séance after séance to try and find some evidence of the paranormal, of a connection to the afterlife. But he knew the stage and he knew sleight of hand, he knew how to trick people and he knew when he was being tricked. Houdini debunked every one of the mediums he came into contact with.

houdini & doyle
Peanut butter and chocolate, at last!

They met in New York City in 1920 when the author was doing a weeklong stint of speeches at Carnegie Hall about Spiritualism. Houdini found Conan Doyle an intelligent counterpoint to his skepticism and Doyle thought that Houdini had magical powers and that he was just covering up his supernatural abilities by saying it was all illusion. They even went on a little jaunt to Atlantic City together where in the swimming pool, Houdini amazed the old Scotsman with how long he could hold his breath underwater.

Eventually things started going south when Sir Arthur had his wife do a special medium session where she claimed to be able to contact Harry’s mother through automatic writing (that’s where spirits take over the hand of the writer or influence their subconscious to communicate with the living .) It went on for hours but Houdini was just disappointed in the end when the mother wrote in perfect English (she was Hungarian and knew very little of the language of their American adopted home) and also when she made no mention of it being her birthday on the day she made contact (a fact that only Houdini knew in the room.)

Their relationship continued to cool off when Houdini was on a special investigation panel for Scientific American and he debunked a medium named Mina “Margery” Crandon that Conan Doyle championed.

But even the world’s most famous escape artist couldn’t escape the Grim Reaper. He died  on Halloween in 1926. His wife Bess held a séance every year on the anniversary of his death until after ten years she quit, believing that she never got the special message that Harry promised to send her from the other side.

Because this episode really is about being desperate to know that there’s something   wanting to contact the loved ones who have gone before them, we thought that our track, “Viking Funeral” would be appropriate because it’s a tribute to those we’ve left behind.

To the dearly departed,
and all the human sacrifice,
and to all the broken hearted,
who never got to roll the dice.

For tonight we ride,
with ghosts at our side,
of all the ones whom fate was so unkind.
All the promises unkept,
and the tears we never wept,
this one goes out to the left behind.

For all the broken arrows,
who never hit the mark,
We’ll see you on the flambeaus,
as we sing dirges in the dark.

For tonight we ride,
with ghosts at our side,
of all the ones whom fate was so unkind.
All the promises unkept,
and the tears we never wept,
this one goes out to the left behind.

For tonight we ride,
with ghosts at our side,
of all the ones whom fate was so unkind.
All the promises unkept,
and the tears we never wept,
this one goes out to the left behind.

For tonight we ride,
with ghosts at our side,
of all the ones whom fate was so unkind.
All the promises unkept,
and the tears we never wept,
this one goes out to the left behind.
credits

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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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.

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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.

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Stop 3 – Hollywood and Highland

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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.

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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

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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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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.