294 – The Hunger of the Damned: Chad Lewis and Wendigo Lore

When Hollywood comes looking for a nasty monster from First Nations folklore, there’s one supernatural creature that seems to dominate the landscape. The legend of the Wendigo has inspired cinematic villains from Pet Sematary to Supernatural, Ravenous to Bone Tomahawk. From the legends of the Algonquin-speaking Great Lakes tribes in the Upper Midwest and Canada, the Wendigo is the evil spirit that transforms starving humans into a voracious cannibalistic monster after they finally succumb to their basest instincts and taste human flesh.

The cover of Chad Lewis’ new book with Kevin Lee Nelson – Wendigo Lore: Monsters, Myths, and Madness

These tribes lived in an area with harsh cold winters where food becomes scarce. Right around February when you haven’t had anything decent to eat for months and your body is starving for any kind of protein outside of your shoe leather, well, your neighbor might start looking pretty good. The human instinct to survive at all costs is hard to resist. The Wendigo is our warning to resist that urge, that this evil irreparably taints the soul once you feast upon another human.

Cannibalism is the ultimate human taboo. The whole reason that humans thrived on this planet is because we work together. We don’t have the natural advantages that other creatures do like fur on a bear to survive the winter cold or teeth like a wolf to dig into our prey. Our socialization is what enabled us to conquer the planet in all of its areas and climates. Winter is the cruelest climate of all because not only is terribly cold, there’s no food. Eating your fellow man is the ultimate betrayal of what makes us human, our tribal capacity to take on the world together.

Who wants some fava beans?

Chad Lewis and Kevin Lee Nelson have been working on this compendium of Wendigo lore and mythology for almost two decades. And in this episode, Chad tells us of the journey he took in writing the book. Some of the things we also talk about in this conversation:

  • Why you’re never even supposed to say the name of the Wendigo
  • The most famous case of the Wendigo in the modern era, Swift Runner, who ate his family in 1878 Alberta
  • The far edges of the world that Chad Lewis and his co- author went to walk on the same ground as the people they talk about in the book
  • The radio station in Eau Claire, Wisconsin we used to perform at all the time and Chad had a show had an owner that thought he was a skin walker!

The Wendigo are more than just the winter spirits of desperate hunger, it is a monster that feeds on greed. The human capacity for gluttony and the desire that you will never have enough. The Wendigo, like George Romero’s zombies, is never satisfied, its craving is never satiated. It’s a eerily thin, gaunt beast who grows larger with every human it devours, but it’s still not enough. Once you break the taboo and taste the flesh, you descend into madness and you will never satisfy “The Hunger of The Damned”.

I can hear its call
in the scream of the cold
I can feel it crawl
an infection in my soul
a little voice deep inside
you’d rather eat than die
find a way to justify
as the hunger takes hold.

Famine like a disease.
What do you do when you’re hungry
More than a beast
and the monster is me

Stung by the winter’s bite
Can I make it one more night
how long can I fight
until I give in to this appetite

You’ll never be the same
once you’ve tasted flesh
don’t say it’s name
the taste that drives you insane
The Hunger of the Damned
don’t say it’s name

you’ll never be satisfied
when the madness burns inside
you’ll never be complete
When all you see is meat.

you’ll never be satisfied
when the madness burns inside
you’ll never be complete
When all you see is meat.

292 – Lights In The Sky: Personal and Listener UFO Experiences

Millions of people have UFO stories. There is a one-hundred percent chance that you know at least one person that has a story! So, we went to our listeners and in our own archives for this episode’s tales of UFO experiences.

Once again, join me, Wendy Lynn, Scott Markus from WhatsYourGhostStory.com, and my sister Allison Jornlin from MilwaukeeGhosts.com to talk about our own stories as well as great ones from our listeners. You can watch the unedited livestream of our conversation here if you’d like to see our pretty faces while we talk.

My sister, Allison, has her own UFO story and it happened to be on the day that my daughter was born, September of 2016. Here’s the exact text of the email she sent me and it came out about 15 minutes after the birth, she didn’t know about it yet and I didn’t have much time to think about it at the time!

I saw some UFOs today at about 7:25 a.m. and I couldn’t wait to tell you. Maybe it’s a sign. Is it baby time? Below is what I wrote for the kids today during our Quick Write: Something amazing happened to me this morning.

No, my brother’s baby didn’t come yet, unfortunately. It was something else.

I was driving to school on Hwy 43 Southbound when I saw something strange in the sky. Actually it was two-somethings. I wondered were they planes, but I couldn’t stop and look because I was on the expressway. That means emergency stopping only!

The objects were pretty high up. That’s why I thought they were planes. But I actually saw two planes go by this morning also. These other objects didn’t seem to be moving and they didn’t have the blinking lights that planes have to have by law. They were like two groups of three bright, white lights hovering there. One was much lower than the other and off to the right. What were they? I wish I could have stopped and taken some video. By the time I got off the expressway, the lights were in back of me and seemed to be getting smaller.

I think maybe they were flares, but I’m not sure. They seemed to fade out instead of coming down like they were on parachutes. They also didn’t really seem to move at all, just hanging motionless in the sky for at least 5 minutes. What do you think they were?

I’ve got my own UFO story too, not exciting like an abduction or anything, but interesting enough to me that I wrote it down the same day.

I was on a vacation in January of 2008 visiting a place called Cabo Rojo which is an incredible white sand beach on the southwestern shore of the island, opening up to the Carribbean sea with a very famous lighthouse.

There was an object far away in the sky that almost looked like a blimp, but it was tremendously high in the sky, so high and so far away that we couldn’t be quite sure of what it was. It definitely didn’t look like a cloud, even though it was completely white and high enough to be a cloud. But the rest of the clouds had some kind of softness and transparency to them and this cloud didn’t. It was definitely unusual and I thought it might be a UFO, what I really thought it might have been was some kind of alien or government ship that was up there and it was meant to be disguised as a cloud, but it was just different enough so if you looked you couldn’t tell. I dunno, I wanted to take a picture of it but I was so enamored with the natural beauty of the place that I forgot about the unnatural beauty of what we were seeing. It probably was a cloud or a blimp that was very high, but it looked just different enough from the other clouds to be interesting. 

My journal, January 3rd, 2008

Funny enough, as we were getting back on the road and driving towards our next location, just what road do we end up driving on? Yeah, that’s some kind of synchronicity. I see something weird in the sky I can’t explain on the same day we randomly decide to drive Puerto Rico’s Extraterrestrial Highway.

This episode is chock full of weird lights in the sky stories, including:

  • Once again, our Patreon Dr. Ned tells us an interesting UFO encounter he had in the 1960s
  • We’ve got high strangeness on a military base from our Patreon C.E. Martin’s book Stranger Than Fiction.
  • A Chicago UFO sighting from Illinois MUFON state director, Sam Maranto
  • A Bermuda Triangle story from near Cabo Rojo where we were in Puerto Rico
  • and lots more…

Well, something I said in this episode is that I’m gonna punch the next person that says the phrase “Space Brothers” to me, well guess what, it was me. The most ridiculous UFO hunt I’ve ever been on was at the Michigan Paracon in 2017 where we all stood outside in the parking lot while Andrea Perron sang “Sentimental Journey” and it was as ridiculous as it sounds. The only reason I took it even a little seriously at first is because Dave Schrader from Darkness Radio and The Holzer Files and Amy Bruni from Kindred Spirits both said that Andrea could really make some crazy stuff happen. Well, I don’t know what they were smoking, but here’s our immediate reaction afterwards…

Okay, so obviously it was hard to take that seriously, so for this episode’s song, we decided to ask our alien friends for a favor. Here’s our Sunspot paranormal track of the week, “Space Brothers”.

You must be talking at light speed
from that black hole you got on your face
cuz when you open your mouth, time slows, and
and I just want to escape.

Oh, you piss me off on a cosmic scale,
So I don’t want ET to come in peace,
the first thing he should do is abduct you, and get you off this planet for keeps.

All these lights in the sky
just watching us like a zoo
and if the Space Brothers wanna do something for me,
I wish they would anal probe you

I dunno why spacemen love butts.
Who can read their alien brains?
But if they’re looking for the biggest asshole in the world
well, I can give them a name.

All these lights in the sky
just watching us like a zoo
and if the Space Brothers wanna do something for me,
I wish they would anal probe you

All these lights in the sky
just watching us like a zoo
and if the Space Brothers wanna do something for me,
I wish they would anal probe you

291 – Everyone’s Got A Ghost Story: Listener and Personal Experiences

Everyone’s got a ghost story, from your grandma to your high school social studies teacher. In fact, some of the people that you least expect (and some skeptics as well), seem to have stories that they just can’t quite explain. One time, I remember talking to someone about ghost stories and he said, “Nothing’s really ever happened to me… well… except that time that heard my grandmother’s voice tell me to stop immediately when I was driving, and I narrowly avoided getting into a car crash that surely would have killed me.” Nope, nothing at all then.

So, this week, we decided to talk about our personal ghost stories as well as reach out to See You On The Other Side listeners to get their tales of the unexplained, so we could share them for this special episode. Wendy and I are joined by my sister, Allison from MilwaukeeGhosts.com as well as Scott Markus from WhatsYourGhostStory.com and we originally recorded it as a livestream on Facebook.

Here’s the video of our livestream

But there was a ghost in the machine that day, so we didn’t end up listening to several of the listener stories, because of technical issues. However, all of those stories have been saved for the audio podcast for your listening pleasure, including:

  • The ghost story Allison and my mother told us when we were kids when our parents lived across the street from a cemetery
  • Our family’s strange story of our great uncle seeing an “Angel In The Mirror” right before he died
  • A comforting ghost seen by our Patreon, Dr. Ned
  • Katie’s story, who as a young girl, was out on the road doing merchandise with a country singer calls us to let us know about a hotel she stayed at where the ghost got a little too friendly
  • Former Milwaukee ghost tour guide, Mike J., tells us of a childhood haunting in the “little pink house” that his family lived in
  • Allison and her husband’s adventures at the Haunted Larium Manor Inn in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan
  • Ghost hunter Scott Markus’ adventures investigating in Illinois
  • Quick stories recounted by Amy, Jimmy, and Tina as well…

We also read our Patreon C.E. Martin’s story, “The Closet of Terror” from his biographical paranormal novel, Stranger Than Fiction.

We’re doing more experimenting with recording the podcasts live during the lockdown of Coronavirus 2020, so thanks to everyone who’s been watching the livestreams.

For the song this week, we were inspired by Allison and my family story about our mother’s uncle who saw an angel in the mirror in the middle of the night, told his wife about it, went back to sleep, and never woke up. After hearing the tale since we were children, it seemed like it was about time that we dedicate a track to “The Angel In The Mirror”.

Far beyond its bloom 
only petals on the floor 
a broken flower wilts 
it won’t be pretty anymore 
When you hear the knock 
there’s nothing left to beg for 
how I’ve fought and how I tried 
to keep the lock on this door 

Blinded by the love 
as she holds onto me 
the angel in the mirror 
is the last thing I see 

Wake up in the night 
breathless from a dream 
When I open the door, 
I will find her ready for me. 
with open arms and a crooked smile 
it’s just a small mercy 
My struggle has ended 
I close my eyes and finally sleep 

Blinded by the love 
as she holds onto me 
the angel in the mirror 
is the last thing I see 
Blinded by the love 
as she holds onto me 
the angel in the mirror 
is the last thing I see

290 – Big Fur: Creating The Most Realistic Bigfoot Ever

In the wilds of western Alberta, Canada, Ken Walker lives, hunts, creates, and sings Roy Orbison tracks. He’s a world champion taxidermist who specializes in recreations of extinct animals. He’s brought back stunning versions of the Sabretooth Tiger and the Irish Elk and his work is featured in the Smithsonian Institution. He’s also a Squatcher and in 2015, he began a quest to create a perfect version of the Bigfoot from the infamous 1967 Patterson-Gimlin film, a not-so-little lady he calls “Patty”.

Kansas City filmmaker Dan Wayne was taking on taxidermy as a hobby when he encountered Ken on an internet forum. He found Ken’s work fascinating and was amazed by the amount of access that this first-in-class taxidermist was giving him online to help developing his own skills. And when he discovered that Ken was working on a Sasquatch, he thought it would make a great documentary.

And he was right. The ensuing documentary, which played at Slamdance Film Festival in 2020 is Big Fur, a compelling story about a man’s quest to recreate a creature that many have claim to have seen but only really has been captured on shaky 1967 filmstock. Ken said that he wanted Bigfoot experiencers to see his mount (what taxidermists call their creations) and say “That’s exactly what I saw.”

Ken Walker with “Patty”

I have been a Bigfoot skeptic for awhile now because I just have too many unanswered questions, but talking to Ken and Dan about their documentary and Ken’s theories on the creature have once again opened me up to the possibility. Skeptics, believers, and people just interested in Bigfoot and taxidermy will find a lot to enjoy in this wide-ranging and entertaining discussion, including:

  • Ken’s own Bigfoot experience that led him to believe in Sasquatch
  • How he ended up with several bags of what he thinks is Sasquatch feces in his freezer
  • How you can tell a Hollywood-style fake Bigfoot costume from a real one (hint: it’s all in the forehead)
  • The careful measuring of ratio and dimensions that Ken used to determine the height and size of his creation
  • The electromagnetic energy of Bigfoot
  • Hunting Bigfoot with special Faraday Cage camo suits
  • What kind of weird tree structures that Sasquatch are making out in the Alberta woods

To learn more about where you can see Big Fur, check out the movie website and here’s a quick interview done by our friend Scott Markus from WhatsYourGhostStory.com when he met Dan and Ken at Slamdance.

For the song this week, we couldn’t resist a couple of things. Number one, Ken isn’t just a taxidermist but also a Roy Orbison impersonator (and he even sings a bunch in the film!) Number two, the fact that they call the sasquatch in the Patterson-Gimlin film “Patty” and I didn’t even realize it was a female, blew my mind. So, of course we couldn’t resist making a rockabilly song about our favorite new girl, “Patty”.

7 foot tall
She’s the biggest girl around
But when she’s feeling shy
She’s nowhere to be found

Oh Patty I know it’s all true
Oh Patty, baby, I believe in you

She don’t shave her legs
She don’t shave her pits
She got the hairiest face you ever gonna kiss.

Oh Patty, where you think you’re going to?
Oh Patty, baby, I believe in you.

She’s an outdoors gal,
Hiding in the trees,
She don’t wear no shoes so
I hope you like big feet.

Oh Patty. Won’t you give us a little view?
Oh Patty, baby, I be

She’s a whole lotta lady
Gigantopithicus
She’s a California girl
But she don’t like showbiz

Oh Patty, They all tell me I’m a fool
Oh Patty baby, I believe in you.

7 foot tall
She’s the biggest girl around
But when she’s feeling shy
She’s nowhere to be found

Oh Patty I know it’s all true.
Oh Patty baby please don’t leave
Oh Patty baby don’t deceive
Oh Patty baby I believe in you

289 – Fortunate Phantoms: The World’s Happiest Ghost Stories

With the world under quarantine for an indefinite amount of time and people everywhere being a little freaked out by the current circumstances of our COVID-19 isolation, we thought we’d brighten things up a little bit with some ghost stories that aren’t scary, but they’re happy!

Manuco Gandia from the Gallery Inn in San Juan, Puerto Rico and the parrot that scared the crap out of Mike. Photo by Macduff Everton

Wendy and I were joined for a podcast we recorded on Facebook Live with Allison Jornlin, Milwaukee’s Paranormal Researcher of the Year and WhatsYourGhostStory.com‘s Scott Markus to talk about the happiest ghost stories we know.

Milwaukee’s Indiana Jones Dr.. Stephan Borhegyi, who still haunts the Milwaukee Public Museum

In this episode, we talk about a ton of happy ghost stories and one not-so-happy one:

  • The Gallery Inn in San Juan, Puerto Rico which is haunted by the ghost of the husband of the owner, Manuco Gandia and the stories that the staff told me personally
  • Rudolph Valentino’s favorite haunts in Hollywood
  • The lovers that haunt the Miller Caves in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • The spirit of North Hall on the University of Wisconsin campus and the ghost story there from my high school social studies teacher!
  • How naturalist John Muir saved his professor’s life after a psychic premonition
  • Milwaukee’s own Hungarian Baron, adventurer Dr. Stephan Borhegyi who still haunts the Milwaukee Public Museum
  • The ghosts of the Eastland Disaster and the ones that haunt Oprah’s Harpo Studios in Chicago (that’s the not so happy one)
Rudolph Valentino’s most famous role and his spirit still haunts his favorite places in Hollywood

It’s a fun episode for a weird time, but we hope you’ll enjoy these timeless tales of optimism from the Great Beyond.

John Muir and his psychic premonition that saved his former professor’s life

Ghost stories are often meant to scare and shock, and those are awesome, but they don’t have to always be that way! As Allison says, “Ghost stories mean there’s an afterlife and when there’s life, there’s hope.” So for this week’s song, we wanted to play the heaviest, meanest song we could think of with the nicest lyrics we could think of. Here’s Sunspot with “Happy”!

I’m in such a good mood
Bursting at the seams with bliss
A moment of perfection that feels just so joyous

sugar, spice and everything nice
Living in paradise
This delight is magnified
I got the whole world on my side

Rainbows and sunshine calling
Puppies and hedgehogs crawling
My cup runneth over and
This life is but a dream
Snuggles and rocking chairs
Little hugs and teddy bears
Did I mention that I’m so goddamn happy

Feeling so majestic
So gleeful you could get sick
Smiles and laughs and winks and my feet don’t touch the ground
The call me Mr. Awesome
Don’t need to feel caution
This is my lucky day, love is all around.

Rainbows and sunshine calling
Puppies and hedgehogs crawling
My cup runneth over and
This life is but a dream
Snuggles and rocking chairs
Little hugs and teddy bears
Did I mention that I’m so goddamn happy

288 – St. Patrick’s Day: Legends and Lore Of The Emerald Isle

Every year on St. Patrick’s Day, we all hear the story of St. Patrick so we know it by heart, right? Even before most of us were old enough to slurp cheap green beer and scour the streets in search of Jameson, we knew the story of Ireland’s most famous Saint. He used the shamrock to explain to the Pagan Celtic heathens the mystery of the Holy Trinity (three leaves in one shamrock equal the Father, Son, Holy Spirit all God) and he banished all the snakes from Ireland, right?

Not quite, bucko. Patrick was way cooler than that.

Sláinte from the Junior Varsity St. Patrick’s Day Parade! (Otherwise known as our Halloween show at an Irish bar)

How about this?

  • He was captured by Irish slavers
  • An ethereal voice helped him escape captivity
  • He had frickin’ magic duels with pagan wizards
  • He argued with an angel about letting him judge the Irish souls on Doomsday.

Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, we set the record straight on one of Ireland’s favorite saints in this episode celebrating his Feast day and some of our favorite Irish creatures.

The Lady Wilde, Oscar’s Mother and Author of Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms, and Superstitions of Ireland

If you’re looking to learn about Irish legends, faeries, and cryptids, one of the perfect places to start is Lady Lady Francesca Speranza Wilde and her book Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms, and Superstitions of Ireland. She wasn’t only a remarkable researcher, writer, and suffragist, but she raised literary giant Oscar Wilde . Even better since her book is in the public domain, you can read the whole thing right here.

Wendy took a dive in to talk about the legend of the banshee, which is steeped in the Celtic tradition of “keening” where a woman or group of women wail a lament over a dead body as part of the burial and grieving process. The banshee would be a premonition of the “keening woman” and it would signal a death in the family, sometimes in the form of an innocent virginal sister of the family who died early.

This banshee image was the scariest I could find, damn.

Banshees could also be a type of fairy and Irish legends are full of those as well, including the Phouka and the Kelpie. The Celtic word for the fae is Sidhe (pronounced “she”). Of course that includes everyone’s favorite, leprechauns, whose legends have even made it off Earth and into (ahem) outer space.

Scott Markus from WhatsYourGhostStory.com once again joins us to talk about the Hellfire Club, an Enlightenment-era Eyes Wide Shut-style party group whose ritualistic orgies that even Jonathan Swift (of Gulliver’s Travels fame said were “a brace of monsters, blasphemers and Bacchanalians”. Hellfire Club rumors include a huge black cat that haunts the grounds as well as stories of Satanic Black Masses where unwary passers-by were left scarred for life. In reality did they worship the Devil? Probably no more than the modern Church of Satan does, they were just rich pr!cks who wanted to party with no rules or repercussions.

Scott also did a livestream of Irish legends that you might enjoy…

It sounds like it was a lot more like Donna Tartt’s The Secret History than Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby, which is actually more frightening. It’s Satan’s job to ruin people’s lives, with humans, it’s our choice.

The Hellfire Club on Montpelier Hill outside of Dublin, where rich playboys used to meet for sex and drinking parties meant to thumb their noses at Christian morality. Photo by Joe King.

Ireland is a place where it feels like anything can happen and the fanciful folk tales are legion, we also discuss:

For this week we decided to create some Irish jigs inspired by our discussion of Irish legends. This “trad set” includes three original tunes by Sunspot: Druid’s Duel, Lady Wilde’s Fetch, and The Fairy Rath!

287 – Portals To Hell: Ghost Hunting With Jack Osbourne and Katrina Weidman

Jack Osbourne and Katrina Weidman return on Friday The 13th to TRVL with the second season of Portals To Hell. Jack, of course, is the son of the rock ‘n’ roll Prince of Darkness, Ozzy Osbourne, and he grew up in the world of reality television as a star of the megapopular The Osbournes. He’s fully embraced his father’s legacy by not only producing paranormal reality TV but by becoming a ghost hunter himself! Katrina Weidman of course, rose to television fame through Paranormal State (which also featured previous guest Chip Coffey) and three seasons of Paranormal Lockdown with Ghost Adventures‘ Nick Groff.

Jack Osbourne and Katrina Weidman of Portals To Hell

We talked with Jack and Katrina about the upcoming episodes of the show and what they’ve learned about the supernatural and themselves through two seasons of investigating the paranormal together.

Then Wendy and I talk about the legends of the portals to Hell throughout history as well as one of the most famous ones, in Stull, Kansas. We visited there last year and here’s my Facebook live video:

Wendy and Scott from WhatsYourGhostStory.com visited Stull in 2017 and while they didn’t find a portal to Hell, they certainly found some weird burnt dirt by the ruins of the old chapel on the cemetery grounds.

The charred earth that Wendy was talking about in the episode

So, in addition to interviewing Jack Osbourne and Katrina Weidman, we also talk about:

  • The “Gates of Hell” legends in Pennsylvania and Illinois
  • My very own “Gates of Hell” legend from Mukwonago, Wisconsin and the weird remains I found there
  • The various portals to the Underworld in Ancient Greece
  • What exactly is Charon’s Obol?
  • Why did people put pennies on the eyes of the deceased until the early Twentieth Century?
  • The truth about the Siberian “Borehole To Hell”

Now, Jack and Katrina purposefully going to places with a “dark energy” made me think about Nietzsche’s infamous passage from Beyond Good and Evil:

Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you.

Friedrich W. Nietzsche

And of course, Portals to Hell is going to make me think about the “Crack of Doom”, which Tolkien called the forge where Sauron from The Lord Of The Rings created the “One Ring to Rule Them All”. It’s where Frodo had to take the ring to be destroyed. But the phrase “crack of doom” originally meant something else. The word “crack” means an extremely loud noise, like a crack of thunder. And the “crack of doom” means the end of the world because that’s the loud noise of angelic trumpets that will sound at the breaking of the Seventh Seal. Which is the beginning of the last Judgement from the Book of Revelation where Jesus will return and bring the good souls to Heaven and cast the bad ones into the Lake of Fire. Catholic filmmaker Kevin Smith played with this idea in his film Red State.

So you throw together a little Nietzsche, the gates of Hell, and the Lake of Fire and that’s how you get this week’s song, “The Crack of Doom”

I took on the Devil so I could make my mark,
I went fighting monsters and I stepped into the dark

Tragedies, infamies, terrible bloody shames,
they were waiting for me
and they knew me by name

I went to the Gates of Hell
and they followed me through
When you look at the abyss
the abyss looks at you.

The crack of Doom
The crack of Doom

I played a game with Evil,
thinking it was just a goof.
I swam in the Lake of Fire
but I wasn’t fireproof.
When you focus on atrocity
the work gets worse and worse.
The self-fulfilling prophecy
will damn you like a curse.

I went to the Gates of Hell
and they followed me through
When you look at the abyss
the abyss looks at you

The crack of Doom
The crack of Doom