105 – Exorcism: Carl Seige and The Four Signs of Possession

Exorcism, it’s back baby! From scores of possessed Peruvian kids to the Catholic Church increasing the number of priests they train for exorcism, to a psychiatrist seriously discussing possession in the pages of The Washington Post, the word on the street is that people are getting possessed by demons and it’s gonna take some of that Power of Christ to compel them out of there!

One of our favorite paranormal experts, Allison Jornlin from Milwaukee Ghosts, has been researching cases of demonic possession and we brought her on to talk about a little known, but very influential exorcism case, that occurred in the Devilish Dairy State (that’s Wisconsin) in the 1860s.

watertown wisconsin carl siege exorcism
Watertown, WI in the 19th Century – this is the best they could do for aerial views, I guess.

It all begins with the Seige Family, who were living in Germany in the late 1840s. Carl’s little sister was playing outside when she found a duck egg with a pinhole in it. She brought it into show the family but the mother immediately said to get rid of it. However, before they could, the dog ate it. Soon after, the poor pooch passed on and the sister became violently ill. She suffered for a year with blindness and fits and then passed away. One side of Carl’s body shriveled and he became very sickly. Soon after the family emigrated to Watertown, Wisconsin because they knew that the Devil wouldn’t follow them to America (right? Right?!)

Not so, Carl continued to suffer from strange symptoms. Newspapers reported that he had a lizard (or some said a snake) in his stomach. He started acting crazy so his parents brought in a Native American doctor to help draw out the evil, but that didn’t seem to work. So, they finally called in the demon-cleansing professionals, the Catholic Church.

Now the Catholic Church says that there are four Signs of Possession:

  •  Knowing The Unknowable – This is where you possess knowledge that you can’t possible have known beforehand. People’s locations, things that they were doing, who they were with, secrets, etc… Basically psychic powers like you’re Professor X watching them through Cerebro.
  • Understanding Unlearned Languages – Being able to comprehend when people are speaking to you in a tongue with which you have no prior experience. This is especially useful when possessed people go on vacation.
  • Aversion to Sacred Objects – Crosses, holy water — all the kind of stuff that people try in vampire movies but never seems to work because they don’t have enough faith.
  •  Supernatural Strength – When little kids can throw a grown man across a room or a tiny middle-aged woman can bench press a sofa bed, that means they’ve probably been popping Satanic Steroids.

You don’t have to exhibit all the signs to be authentically demonically possessed, but it’s an important checklist because at least 3 out of the 4, you can’t really fake. (It’s easy to act freaked out around a cross, people do it in Dracula movies all the time. It’s a lot harder to answer someone speaking in Latin or deadlift a Mini-Cooper.)

In Carl’s case he exhibited three of the signs, number one, he met his would-be Exorcists, the Rev. John Gmeiner and another priest as they were arriving, even though no one told him when they were coming. Number two, the priests would ask him questions in Latin and he’d give the correct answer, responding in German, but showing that he understood the Latin nonetheless (even though he had no prior education in the language.) Number three, when he was deep in the throes of his possession, he reacted violently to the crucifix.

spirits of darkness carl seige exorcism
Father Gmeiner invented the “Horror Movie” font 30 years too early!

The priests exorcised Carl and were able to drive the demons out of him according to Father Gmeiner’s book, Spirits Of Darkness. But like herpes simplex, the demons never really go away, they just hide and come back in multiple outbreaks of possession throughout your life. Carl Seige had to be exorcised many times during his life to keep the Devil at bay.

In the present day, they recently held an Exorcist training seminar in Northern Illinois at Mundelein Seminary. Allison stopped by there last week to do some research and maybe catch a glimpse of some of those Catholic heroes who are learning the proper angles to spray Holy Water and the latest in projectile vomit-avoidance techniques. Our friend, Tea Krulos, wrote an article about it in the Milwaukee Record and called it “Exorcist-palooza”.

mundelein seminary carl seige exorcism
Excuse me guys, is this where all the Exorcists hang out?

There’s an new Exorcist TV show coming on FOX this season as well. William Peter Blatty’s book was famously based on a 1949 case, but there’s some connections that Allison has been researching that are less well known, and that’s a story for another podcast.

Self-harm is one of the cornerstones of demonic possession. There’s even a case in the Bible where Jesus encounters a possessed man cutting himself with stones. (Mark 5:5) This song, “Mercy of Myth” by our band Sunspot talks about how punishing yourself needlessly isn’t worth it, because not only does it make you feel bad, it also opens you up to being possessed!

There is a Hell we hold within,
you can’t forgive yourself for the things you did.
A hair shirt and a bottle,
won’t let you forget.

Consequently, rear entry
is all that we’re left with.
We camouflage our sabotage,
and lay at the mercy of myth.

And culpa’s even worse than Crack,
You don’t need a sheepskin to know that,
even after cutting, nailbiting, hair pulling and spiting.
All your shame is still toxic.

Consequently, rear entry
is all that we’re left with.
We camouflage our sabotage,
and lay at the mercy of myth.

I’ll abandon ship on this guilt trip,
and let it drown,
Need some clemency from self pity,
and burn it out.

104 – The Paranormal MD: Mary Marshall’s Quest Into The Unknown

We first encountered Mary Marshall at the Chicago Dark Shores Ghost Convention last year where she put on a presentation delving into the scientific investigation of the paranormal. She’s based out of Hoffman Estates  in the Chicagoland area (which I just wanted to mention so that we could all enjoy this picture from a Sunspot show in Hoffman Estates a few years ago.)

mike drinking 2 beers
$2 32 oz beers in Hoffman Estates. Now that was a helluva show!

While Mary isn’t an actual Paranormal MD (it’s a nickname) she does advocate a scientific approach to exploring the paranormal and has helped found paranormal studies classes at several colleges. We always appreciate a science-based approach here and another thing that I like is that they don’t charge money or offer exorcisms or cleansings.

That’s always been kind of my issue with a lot of paranormal investigation teams. Cleansings and exorcisms don’t really have any scientific basis whatsoever, unless you’re using some kind of psychological explanation for everything and are claiming that the ritualistic aspect of it makes people feel better. And that people feeling better can have some psychic effect on the space (an atmosphere of fear doesn’t usually contribute to a happy home.)

paranormal md
The Paranormal MD

Okay, so Mary Marshall the Paranormal MD goes into depth with us on several of her supernatural experiences, including her original encounter with an evil entity from when she was a teenager and a case of ball lightning that she experienced with her daughter. She elaborates on her latest adventures with us as she recently completed a DVD with our buddy Jay Bachochin from WPI Hunts The Truth where they explore Wisconsin’s Kettle Moraine Forest, which is 100 miles of woods that have plenty of weird legends associated with them.

Jay is a huge Bigfoot fan and he and Mary describe their adventures like as “a dollar store version of Mulder and Scully on a dime store budget” and Mary gives us a preview in the podcast about what we can expect from the upcoming documentary.

When Mary shared with us her first experience with the paranormal she talked about how the room she went into had an overwhelming stench of sulfur (an element that smells like rotten eggs or skunk, and is often associated with volcanos.) In the Bible, sulfur is called “brimstone” and it’s a smell often associated with Hell and demonic activity. We thought that “Sulfur” might make a cool name for this week’s Sunspot paranormal music track.

it was the sulfur
it was the brimstone
it was the night
it was the blackness
it was the madness
when you lost your sight
there are moments that matter
there are fixed points in time
and what you do right here
will be with you to the end of your life.
be careful what you burn
and all you’ll taste is the sulfur
of how right you thought you were
be careful what you burn
and all you’ll taste is the sulfur
of how right you thought you were
it was the sulfur
it was the anger
it was the wrath
it was the vengeance
the lack of penance
you strayed from the path
there are moments that matter
there are fixed points in time
and what you do right here
will be with you to the end of your life.
be careful what you burn
and all you’ll taste is the sulfur
of how right you thought you were
be careful what you burn
and all you’ll taste is the sulfur
of how right you thought you were

103 – Floating Into Altered States: Exploring Consciousness Through Sensory Deprivation

Here’s an episode chock full of paranormal goodness. First, I tell Wendy and Allison about the time that I worked for Miss Cleo (because sadly, the actress who portrayed her, Youree Dell Harris, passed away last week.) Second, Allison and I were recording on location from [Milwaukee’s haunted Hilton Garden Inn](hilton garden inn milwaukee haunted). We decided to make it a paranormal siblings’ adventure day and not only stayed at the haunted hotel, but also did our first float in a sensory deprivation tank.

Wait… what? Okay, a sensory deprivation tank is a pod filled with body temperature water and about 500 pounds of epsom salt, so that when you get in it, you immediately float. They were invented in 1954 by neuropsychiatrist John C. Lilly. There was a theory floating (see what I did there?) around at the time that the brain depended on external stimuli to work and th

john c. lilly father of floating
John C. Lilly – looking conspicuously like Hunter S. Thompson

at without any stimulus, it would just fall asleep. These tanks were designed to test that theory.

olivia dunham fringe floating
Olivia from Fringe taking a dip

Sensory deprivation tanks were featured in Fringe where in the first episode, FBI Agent Olivia Dunham goes in the tank with a wide variety of hallucinogens to try and speak with the mind of her deceased partner and lover. Dr. Walter Bishop, the mad scientist featured on Fringe would often go in the tank under the influence of LSD as well.  In the recent Netflix show, Stranger Things, a tank is featured as a way to facilitate psychic communication.

william hurt altered states floating tank
When are the jets supposed to turn on?

Most famously, though, is the film Altered States where William Hurt portrays a scientist exploring the origin of consciousness inside the sensory deprivation tank. In the tank he devolves to a primitive human state and even a non-physical conscious entity. The author of the novel and screenplay, Paddy Chayefsky, was one of the most important writers during the Golden Age of Television and his work was heavily influenced by John C. Lilly’s research. In fact, in an interview with Omni in 1983, Lilly talked about how much he liked the film

The scene in which the scientist becomes cosmic energy and his wife grabs him and brings him back to human form is straight out of my Dyadic Cyclone (1976)…As for the scientist’s regression into an ape-like being, the late Dr. Craig Enright, who started me on K (ketamine) while taking a trip with me here by the isolation tank, suddenly “became” a chimp, jumping up and down and hollering for twenty-five minutes. Watching him, I was frightened. I asked him later, “Where the hell were you?” He said, “I became a pre-hominid, and I was in a tree. A leopard was trying to get me. So I was trying to scare him away.” The manuscript of The Scientist (1978) was in the hands of Bantam, the publishers. The head of Bantam called and said, “Paddy Chayefsky would like to read your manuscript. Will you give him your permission?” I said, “Only if he calls me and asks permission.” He didn’t call. But he probably read the manuscript.

Allison sprung for gift certificates from Float Milwaukee for Christmas presents this year and that’s where we did our float. I’ll walk you through what happens…

float milwaukee
Just a nice and inconspicuous place in Walkers Point…

So, once you walk in the door, you take off your street shoes and put on shower shoes, which I haven’t seen anyone use since I was in the college dormitory. So, different shoes, it’s like bowling!

IMG_4388

Then you sign in at the front desk. This was Allison, who has been at Float Milwaukee since it opened and she spent time explaining the floating process to us and endured our litany of questions about what to expect, experiences that she’s had, and if anyone there has had paranormal encounters while in the floatation tank.

She also asks you to sign the legal waiver in case anything does happen in the floatation tank. Anytime things involve laying around  in water, I suppose there’s going to be some liability issues.

Float Milwaukee Allison
Just sign the waiver and I’ll keep smiling…

From there you go into the back where everyone gets their own little room with a floatation tank. This part feels more like a doctor’s office than some New Age-y hippity dippity thing.

Float Milwaukee
BEHOLD THE HALLWAY OF CONSCIOUSNESS

And here it is, the sensory deprivation tank with its science fiction-y blue light. It looks like a big Pac Man that’s coming to eat you!

Float Milwaukee
Feed me, Seymour!

So, I wore a swimsuit and a beach outfit, but nope, this is a full naked experience – like a tanning bed without the cancer! You take a quick shower before you get in. A calm female voice tells you when it’s time to get in.

Float Milwaukee
I totally should have worked out more before taking this picture…

And that’s it, then you’re in the tank. And you float very easily, your whole back of your head does dunk in and so your ears will be underwater, so get ready for that feeling. But other than that, it feels nice and easy. There’s enough space above your head so you don’t feel claustrophobic, it’s not like a coffin.

You can choose to keep the light on and some meditative music playing if you want or you can keep it totally dark and silent with nothing but the beating of your heart. I kept the light on for a little while because I liked feeling like I was in the future, but eventually I went to total darkness and silence.

And then you relax or you think or you meditate or you heal, basically you do whatever you want in your head. It’s forced relaxation for an hour with no interruptions, no mobile notifications, no anything… it’s called sensory deprivation for a reason because you’re eliminating all external stimuli and it’s wonderful. We did a little telepathy experiment where my brother-in-law tried to send a one-word message that my sister and I tried to receive, so I was paying attention to the words that popped into my head as well.

After the hour is up, you hear the same calm female voice letting you know it’s time to get out. You jump in the shower again to wash the salt off and can head to the post-float dressing room to dry and style your hair and reapply your makeup.

IMG_4394

After that, it’s a trip(!) to the decompression room where they have some nice teas (the Equilibrium was my personal favorite) and you can journal about your experience as well as see what others have had to say about theirs.
IMG_4401And here I am in the post-float afterglow enjoying that Equilibrium tea. While I didn’t get the one-word psychic message right nor did I experience any hallucinogenic effects or devolution, it was a wonderful meditative and relaxing experience.

float milwaukee
That’s my fake smile when I’m wishing there was alcohol in my cup!

Overall, floating was pretty awesome and I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again. They even have overnight floats in case you want to spend a nice long time exploring your consciousness. We don’t get any referrals or kickback from Float Milwaukee, but I would very much recommend them . The staff (Glenn and Allison) were friendly and knowledgeable and the whole place was very clean and safe.

For the Sunspot song this week, we picked the first song of our very first album, Radio Free Earth. Part of the fun of floating is the feeling of weightlessness. Too many things in our lives weigh us down, we build up too much and let go too little. That’s what this song is about, here is “Artificial Gravity”.



Put on old St. Christopher,
And strap up on my pack,
Because I think that it’s time for me to go.
There’s no use in loving somebody,
Who doesn’t love you back,
And I think that it’s time for me to go.

And I think I lost my heart in artificial gravity,
I was living in a hologram of only you and me.
If the world was right, you would be
famous and trendy.
And if the world was just,
you’d be a star.
Like the way I feel you are.

Shine on…
I know I have to go but don’t forget me when I’m gone.
Shine on…
One thousand miles into the night, you’ll be the brightest star in my sky.

History repeats itself,
This time I’ll make things right,
but I think that it’s time for me to go.
We’ll figure it out, I tell myself,
so I can make it through the night.
But I think that it’s time for me to go.

And I think I lost my heart in artificial gravity,
I was living in a hologram of only you and me.
If the world was right, you would be
famous and trendy.
And if the world was just,
you’d be a star.
Like the way I feel you are.

Shine on…
I know I have to go but don’t forget me when I’m gone.
Shine on…
One thousand miles into the night, you’ll be the brightest star in my sky.

102: I Talk Paranormal: The Strange World of Jim Malliard

This week we thought we’d try something different by interviewing another podcaster and paranormal investigator, the host of the Malliard Report (what he calls “the fastest hour in Paranormal Talk Radio”), Jim Malliard.

Jim Malliard Report
Get it? Cuz there’s a duck… oh nevermind!

Jim’s show has featured fascinating guests from Coast to Coast AM‘s George Noory and Scotty Roberts to See You On The Other Side alums like Tea Krulos and Garnet Schulhauser. and he’s been in the paranormal podcast game since 2011. Interestingly enough, Jim Malliard wasn’t a believer in the paranormal until he had his own experience.

Jim lives in northwestern Pennsylvania and on a trip to Gettysburg with his family, he started experiencing strange things. First of all, his  infant son started reacting to something in the room that no one else could see (in a place where the tour guide said that there was a spirit that liked children) and the next day he saw a Civil War soldier plain as day in the famous battlefield. He thought it was a re-enactor, only there were no re-enactments that day and when he investigated more closely, the soldier disappeared.

Jim Malliard Gettysburg
This is Jim in Gettysburg, but with someone alive.

This led Jim to form a paranormal investigation group in his town of Meadville, Pennsylvania, and eventually that led into creating a radio show based around his fascination with the strange. In this episode, we get details of his personal experiences and his favorite guests after five years exploring the unknown.

The Sunspot track this week is inspired by the Civil War solder that Jim Malliard saw in Gettysburg. He was still fighting the war years afterwards and this song is about loving someone long gone and having it interfere with your life today, take a listen to “Dead Man”.

All the years that I spent waiting for a chance,
all the hopes projected onto you,
sitting on the bench, watching someone else,
living the life I was supposed to.

A thousand different scenes all played out in my brain,
of this moment and how it happens and what it means.
And now it’s happening, and everything has changed.
but sometimes your eyes stare past me.

The part of me I thought that won you,
never had a chance,
you’re in love with a dead man.
the thought of him that always haunts you,
Slipping right through my hands,
You’re in love with a dead man,

Old t-shirts that get worn around the house,
Old pictures supposed be thrown out.
Why do you love someone who cannot love you back?
Why is it always better living in the past?

All these memories are past their sell-by date,
And a ghost still roams throughout our halls,
A dream is always sweeter than our present state.
And second place is better than nothing at all.

The part of me I thought that won you,
never had a chance,
you’re in love with a dead man.
the thought of him that always haunts you,
You’re slipping through my hands,
You’re in love with a dead man,

 

101 – Star Trek: Beyond The Psychic Powers Of The Final Frontier

We saw on Facebook the other day that every Ghostbusters film has come out in the same month as a Star Trek film. Star Trek 3: The Search for Spock came out a week before the first Ghostbusters and Star Trek 5: The Final Frontier came our a week before Ghostbusters 2. Unfortunately, Star Trek 3 and 5 are known as the kinda bad ones so we don’t know what that means for Star Trek Beyond, but since it’s opening a week after the Ghostbusters reboot, well, we just had to do back-to-back episodes ourselves!

And it’s not like we’ve never talked about Star Trek before, our Leonard Nimoy tribute episode covered a good deal of our Trekker-related tendencies, but we decided to devote our first full episode to the big daddy of space exploration series and how they used psychic powers within the show.  And even though Star Trek Into Darkness had some pretty weak sauce, we’re hoping that with a script written by supergeek Simon Pegg (alternate-universe Scotty, himself) Star Trek Beyond is the film we’ve been hoping for.

star trek beyond gary mitchell
Hey, it’s Sally Kellerman, one day she would grow up to be the completely unbelievable love interest for Rodney Dangerfield in Back To School!

Psychic powers are baked into the Star Trek formula, in fact, when the pilot episode of the original Star Trek was rejected by NBC and they asked for a new story, psychic powers were the plotline! The extremely evil-sounding Gary Mitchell(!) portrayed a villain who was warped by his access to God-like telepathy and mind control.

star trek beyond vulcan mind meld

The most famous Star Trek psychic move of course is the Vulcan Mind Meld. That’s where a Vulcan touches the head of another person and they can transfer memories, emotions, and in the case of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan), even the personality and soul of the Vulcan. Spock mind melds with Kirk, McCoy, and even a silicon-based giant pizza monster called the Horta in the classic episode, “Devil In The Dark”.

spock horta pizza star trek beyond
I can feel how much you hate anchovies…

Star Trek: The Next Generation brought psychic powers to the bridge in the form of Counselor Deanna Troi, the half-human half Betazoid empath who would advise Captain Picard on what the aliens they were talking to were feeling.

counselor deanna troi star trek beyond
Glamour Shots from the future!

In the writer’s guide for Star Trek: The Next Generation they said that they wanted to keep the stories scientifically plausible  and that:

2. We do not do stories about psi-forces or mysterious psychic powers

No matter how fantastic the events in a story, the explanation must be extrapolated from a generally accepted science theory. (We have accepted the telepathy of Counselor Deanna Troi because many reputable scientists have acknowledged the possibility of such abilities, but you will note that we have limited Troi to “reading” only emotions.)

When it comes to science fiction, half of the battle is keeping a consistent set of physics in the universe where technological hurdles have been leapt that we currently haven’t foggiest of how to fathom (like warp speed or time travel), so when it comes to psychic powers, Star Trek had a physical medium through which psychic powers could travel. Here’s how they said telepathy worked on an old site about Star Trek: Voyager:

Star Trek science consultant and writer André Bormanis has revealed that telepathy within the Star Trek universe works via the “psionic field.” According to Bormanis, a psionic field is the “medium” through which unspoken thoughts and feelings are communicated through space. Some humanoids can tap into this field through a kind of sense organ located in the brain (e.g. the paracortex). In the same manner that Human eyes can sense portions of the electromagnetic field, telepaths can sense portions of the psionic field.

star trek beyond telepathic pitcher plant
The giant psychic space organism that almost ate the Voyager.

This week, we’re trying out our first See You On The Other Side psi experiment. We made a little 5-minute meditation track inspired by Star Trek‘s various themes to help  your mind into the Alpha state – which is the state that some people believe can enhance telepathy – so we want to see if we can help you get results.

  • Find a friend to listen to this YouTube video through headphones at the exact same time as you and have one person be a sender and one person be the receiver.

  • As the sender, pick a one-word message to send. It could be any word you like. Listen to the track and focus on that message and images behind its meaning.

  • The receiver will then write down a paragraph of what they felt and what their thoughts were during the five minutes.

  •  Send the one-word message and the paragraph to us over email or Twitter the results on a future podcast. Feel free to send us an audio file too, we’d love to be able to hear your voice!

We know it’s not hard science, but we thought that Episode 101 and Star Trek Beyond was the perfect time to inaugurate some psychic research of our own!

100 – Ghostbusters: The Real-Life Inspiration Behind The Film

Episode 100! And we’re celebrating our first patron on the See You On The Other Side Patreon – thank you John!

This week we bring in Allison Jornlin from Milwaukee Ghosts again to discuss every paranormal investigator’s favorite film the week that the reboot comes out.  Growing up in the 80s, the film was a huge influence on all of us because not only did it introduce the idea of spirits as a physical force (handled through the particle accelerators that the ghostbusters carried on their backs) that could be explored through science, it also was a humorous introduction to the world of parapsychology, which seeks to explain the non-material world through mainstream and repeatable scientific  experiments. Plus it was funny and was the kind of film that worked just as well for kids as it did adults.

official. ghosbusters. certificate
Mike’s first degree.

Dan Aykroyd calls the paranormal his “family business” and in this episode we get into the details of his relationship to Spiritualism as well as the real-life influences behind the film, from Jack Parsons, L. Ron Hubbard, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to J.B. Rhine and Dr. Charles Tart (the influence behind the great opening scene to the film!)

Also, we just talked about The Conjuring 2 and we discover in this episode that Gozer (the first film’s Big Bad) was a name invoked during the Enfield Poltergeist and that’s where Dan Aykroyd got the name. Too awesome! We cover everything from the cartoon show to the new movie’s star, Melissa McCarthy’s supernatural experiences in this episode.

Here’s the link to the Tim Ferriss podcast with Malcolm Gladwell, where the journalist says that even he believes in ghosts!

Here’s a link to some of the sacred texts that inspired Tobin’s Spirit Guide.

And we’ve got a brand new Sunspot song inspired and dedicated to growing up with Ghostbusters. Here’s our song, inspired by their classic commercial, it’s called “Ready To Believe You”.

When I was a boy I had the terrors and they came every night
I lied awake, so terrified, never daring to close my eyes.
I thought that I would be at the their whim for the rest of my days,
until I saw a flick that said I didn’t have to be afraid.

I didn’t have to be afraid.

I was hoping for a sequel but I guess I’ll just have to take a reboot,
I don’t care that it’s all women and if you do, you’re just a tool.
I can’t believe it’s 0-16 and this stuff is finally cool.
I wanna meet a girl who says that “there’s no Dana only Zuul”

There is No Dana Only Zuul.

Choose the form of your destructor,
Would you rather be a cynic or a fool?
Choose the form of your destructor, baby.
Because if you don’t, they will choose for you.

And the man said who you gonna call?
You know who. You know who.
And the man said who you gonna call?
We’re ready to believe you.

From Samhain to the Bogey man, they fought nightmares across this land,
From Devil Dogs to demi-gods, they never worried about the odds,
Got no time for the EPA or their silly bureaucrats – they hate that.

They hate that.

Slimer was funny when it started but that class five free roamer just got old quick,
So did the junior busters, hey who wants to see a bunch of kids?
Gozer was a traveler and he traveled his butt right into a beatdown,
And then they showed that prehistoric b how we do things downtown,
How we do things downtown.

Choose the form of your destructor,
Would you rather be a cynic or a fool?
Choose the form of your destructor, baby.
Because if you don’t, they will choose for you.

And the man said who you gonna call?
You know who. You know who.
And the man said who you gonna call?
We’re ready to believe you.

99 – Strange Town: Billy Driver And Mark Morrow Talk Texas Ghost Hunting

One of our favorite bumper stickers for a long time said “Keep Austin Weird”. Austin is a lot like our current city of Madison (except a WHOLE lot bigger and warmer) with the capitol and state’s flagship university keeping things interesting. They’ve also got a lot of hippies, just like us. We’ve been going to perform in Austin at least once a year since 2002 and it’s one of our favorite cities (in fact, we were just there in March!)

Keep Austin Weird

So, when we heard about Strange Town, a cool Austin-based ghost hunting show with two musicians as the main investigators, well, hot damn, we knew we had to have them on the show. Mark Morrow and Billy Driver are the two paranormal investigators who form the core of Strange Town.

Mark Morrow and Billy Driver of Strange Town
Mark Morrow and Billy Driver of Strange Town

First meeting while crewing a TV production in Austin, Mark and Billy found their conversation turning towards ghosts and supernatural phenomena. With both of them having a penchant for the paranormal as well as skills in media production, it was only natural that the next step would be to get together their own ghost-hunting show based around haunted sites that they knew about in Texas.

So far, they’ve completed two seasons of the show (and even more impressively, as a two-man investigation and production operation!), and it’s shown on Austin’s PBS Station , KLRU-TV (as well as online, where you can watch ALL the episodes right here). But they’ve also been featured on Destination America’s Ghost Brothers earlier this year as special guest investigators at the site of a famous hotel.

A lot of the fun of listening to this podcast is to hear to the Spirit Box EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomena) that Mark and Billy get while they  are doing the investigations. They shared some of their best evidence with us for this episode.

If you don’t know what a Spirit Box is, it’s an electronic device that quickly scans through radio frequencies randomly and the hope is that the spirits in the room can use the energy of the radio frequencies to speak through the white noise. Mark and Billy certainly got some excellent EVPs from their investigations and one of the best was at the Magnolia Hotel in Seguin, Texas.

magnolia hotel seguin texas
The Magnolia Hotel. Do you think they offer room service?

Seguin, Texas is about 50 miles south of Austin near New Braunfels. The Magnolia Hotel was originally built by Texas Rangers in 1840 (we’re not quite sure if Chuck Norris was part of the original team.) Its most famous story is about a pharmacist that was staying there in 1874 by the name of William Faust.

Faust became infatuated with his wife’s sister and decided that the only way he could have her was by murdering his wife. She was staying with some friends in New Braunfels when Faust snuck into their home and took an axe to a figure on the floor of a bedroom that he thought his wife was staying in, but it wasn’t her. It was Emma, the daughter of his wife’s friend. Faust was able to get a couple whacks at his wife before he ran, blinding her (and she never would testify against him, saying that she never actually saw who attacked her), but the suspicion eventually led to him and he was executed for the little girl’s murder.

Mark and Billy got some awesome EVPs at the Magnolia and it sure does sound like they talked to Emma, who’s watching over the room that her murderer escaped to after killing her brutally, if accidentally.

Strange Town is DIY-ghost hunting with awesome production values but not the sensationalism of most cable ghost shows. It’s so authentic you can feel the Texas heat as well as enjoy the enthusiasm of this supernatural duo.

And if you want to check out some music, Billy plays with the excellent Gooding, a great rock band we’ve seen several times when they’ve toured through Madison in the past (which is a really fun coincidence!) And speaking of music, this week’s Sunspot track is inspired by our conversation and the saga of poor Emma, the girl whose murdered spirit still haunts the Magnolia Hotel.

Emma, it’s time to go to bed,
Tonight you share your room with your mama’s friend
It was a quiet and peaceful night in 1874,
Oh Emma, you weren’t supposed to be on the floor.
Oh Emma, you weren’t supposed to be on the floor.
Emma, I just pray that you never opened your eyes,
And I just wish you gave that bastard some kind of fight.
Cut down by the axe of some no good druggist,
Oh Emma, you died in the Texas dust.
Oh Emma, you died in the Texas dust.
Faust saw what he did and he ran terrified,
But before that he took his blade to his wife’s eyes,
And she said she never saw who committed the crime.
Oh Emma, the wrong place at the wrong time.
Sorry Emma, the wrong place at the wrong time.
But he never got that far.
But he never got that far.
Emma, I hope you got your revenge,
That you’re the one guarding his soul’s prison.
They say he’s trapped forever and he’ll never leave the room.
Oh Emma, sometimes we still hear you,
But Emma, sometimes we still hear you.

98 – Ghosts On The Mississippi: 2016 Haunted America Conference Recap

This weekend Allison from Milwaukee Ghosts, Wendy, and I had the privilege to attend the 2016 Haunted America conference in Alton, IL run by one of the Midwest’s spookiest storytellers, Troy Taylor.

mike wendy allison troy taylor
See You On The Other Side meets Haunted America’s Troy Taylor!
We’ve been to Alton, Illinois before. In episode 30, we interviewed one of the area’s haunted tour guides, Luke Naliborski in a live podcast/performance! It’s a small town on the Mississippi River known for being the birthplace of Robert Wadlow, the tallest man in history at 8 feet 11 inches tall! Known as the Alton Giant or the Giant of Illinois, Wadlow was known for his gentleness, but sadly died at only 22 years old. Both Sufjan Stevens and Andrew Bird have played songs about him.

robert wadlow statue
That’s one big dude!
But we weren’t there just to feel short, we were there for ghosts, spirits, and all the weirdness that we could handle! Friday night, we got in pretty late so we missed the first panel, but we did make it in time for the masquerade ball. Hands down, the best costume was the shadow people. At the party, we all got to share some stories of paranormal experiences and that was a lot of fun, but my favorite was the theory that “The Titanic was an inside job”! I had never heard that one before, so it was fun to learn a new conspiracy theory.

shadow people masquerade ball
Shadow people dressed up at the masquerade ball. I turned the contrast up a bit in the pic, but that’s pretty close to exactly what their costumes looked like. Pretty good, huh. I think they might have actually been Shadow People.
Saturday morning, the first presentation was by Dr. Alan Brown, who regaled the crowd with stories of his visits to haunted bed and breakfasts across the United States. Of course, his most provocative location was the Myrtles Plantation in St. Francisville, Louisiana (and you can hear our in depth exploration of the Myrtles Plantation in Episode 77.)

Up next was Paranormal Sarah , who we also saw at the Paradigm Symposium in May, but this time she focused more on the psychology of why we are attracted to the paranormal.

Rosemary Ellen Guiley took the stage after that and you’ll have to listen to this whole episode to really get our take on it. I’ve been, of course, a fan of Rosemary Ellen Guiley’s books practically since I first started getting into reading about strange topics and her latest obsession is the Djinn, a malevolent force that was banished by God after the creation of man to another dimension. They talk about the Djinn in the Koran and it’s what eventually we would call in the West, genies. But we’re not talking about I Dream of Jeannie here. She uses the Djinn as sort of a paranormal unified theory, that they’re shapeshifters who are also responsible for UFO sightings, Bigfoot, Shadow People, and more.

genie djinn robin williams
You ain’t never had an evil shapeshifting friend like me!
During the breaks, we kept on visiting the Traveling Museum of the Paranormal and the Occult with Greg Newkirk and Dana Matthews of Planet Weird. From cursed blades to a terrifying idol they call “Billy”, to a strange cursed Appalachian totem and a haunted Ouija board planchette, the museum was a lot of fun and I can’t wait to bring them on the show.

allison milwaukee ghosts greg newkirk dana matthews planet weird
Allison from Milwaukee Ghosts with Planet Weird’s Greg Newkirk and Dana Matthews (and Billy!)
One of our favorite objects was the black mirror, that people say if you stare into it, you’ll start getting dark thoughts. So, of course, we had to take a look!

wendy lynn cursed black mirror
Wendy looks into the cursed Black Mirror and can’t believe what she sees!
mike cursed mirror
Mike is terrified at what lies on the other side of the mirror
After lunch, Troy Taylor came up with his writing partner, Rene Kruze, and he talked a little bit about some of his favorite investigations. It was fun to listen to a master storyteller at work and talk about some of his weirdest encounters. Troy, having founded the Alton ghost tours, is of course a man after my own heart and he also doesn’t trust orbs in ghost photos, so we really have something in common!

Scotty Roberts from the Paradigm Symposium then gave a presentation on his own paranormal experiences in Egypt, while also getting into who might be perhaps the historical Moses. There’s a great article right here where he goes into some depth on who he feels might be the real Moses and it gave some fascinating background on a personal experience that he later had at that man’s tomb.

allison wendy scotty roberts
Intrepid Magazine and Paradigm Symposium’s Scotty Roberts with Wendy and Allison
After Scotty, it was Sherri Blake from Haunted Heartland Tours talking about the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, WV and the history of a very dark place. She had some great research and pictures and the one photo I wish I could have taken all weekend was the reaction shot of Wendy when she saw a picture of where the surgical icepick goes in during a lobotomy (hint, it’s in your eye socket)!

frontal lobotomy
Ouch!
Allison went to a spiritual protection seminar with Rosemary Ellen Guiley afterwards and in the episode she shares a little of Rosemary’s wisdom about protecting your soul and your psyche (even from the Djinn!)

Overall, the Haunted America Conference was a fun couple of days and well worth the 6 hour drive from Madison. We’re always looking for kindred spirits in the paranormal field (see what I did there?) and we made a bunch of new friends and inspirations for show ideas. One of the most exciting things about conferences is meeting other people with open minds and open hearts when it comes to the mysteries of the universe. It’s easy to forget how amazing and wonderful the world can be and just dwell on the worst aspects. The pointlessness, the boredom, the indifference… the more you focus on those things, the more they rot you from the inside.  It’s easy to be “Cynical” and that’s the title of this Sunspot track, but it helps when you meet other people who are as excited about the possibilities of this universe as you are.

As I sit here just existing,
Nothing moves me I am listening,
Desperate for some inspiration,
To break my lowered expectations.

The graffiti on the wall,
Might as well be a Bible,
There’s no justice of fair play,
There is no Hell or Judgment Day.

I look out of my window,
and I’m blinded by monotony.
The darkness of a world so bright,
It makes me want to shut my eyes.

So cynical,
The world will eat me whole,
If I let it get the best there is of me.
Trapped in a rut,
The world has kicked my butt,
And I will look no more for truth or meaning again,
I will look no more for truth or meaning again.

When I say I’m realistic,
I really mean I’m nihilistic,
If we’re gonna be solipsistic,
We might as well be hedonistic.

I look out of my window,
and I’m blinded by monotony.
The darkness of a world so bright,
It makes me want to shut my eyes.

So cynical,
The world will eat me whole,
If I let it get the best there is of me.
Trapped in a rut,
The world has kicked my butt,
And I will look no more for truth or meaning again,
I will look no more for truth or meaning again.

97 – The Christian Whistleblower: An Interview With Jeffrey Daugherty

Jeffrey Daugherty spent twenty years of his life as a Christian preacher and over a hundred thousand hours studying the New Testament in its original language. By looking at the native text, he started seeing a stark difference in the books written by the apostle Paul versus the apostle John.

These differences led to a crisis of faith for Daugherty, who was conflicted between his discoveries and the Church that he had given his whole life to. He had a family to provide for and his entire existence revolved around his affiliation with his church, from where he lived to what he ate to who he spent his time with. As he talked to his elders and asked them about the contradictions, his concerns were swept under the carpet with the “God works in mysterious ways” response or being told that his interpretation was mistaken or his faith just wasn’t strong enough.

But that wasn’t enough for Jeffrey Daugherty. He saw an agenda in the writings of Paul, an agenda of control and manipulation that seemed contradictory to the teachings of Jesus. Using the modern standard of the Bible, the King James Version, Daugherty saw changes in the text over time, once by being vetted and translated by the Roman Empire early in Christianity’s history and again by the English king in the Seventeenth Century.

He re-edited the New Testament so that the books are in chronological order and with Paul’s writings removed and this Diamond New Testament is the place he believes you should start if you really want to understand what Jesus (who Daugherty refers to as Yeshua to separate him from the character created in Paul’s testament) was trying to say.

Moving on from there, with his Final Message From The Last Apostle book, The Christian Whistleblower finds an extraterrestrial alien agenda in the original language of the writings of the Apostle John. And then his book, Apostle Paul Anti-Christ, is about the fear and guilt used to control humanity by studying the original text of  Paul’s writings.  His books are absolutely fascinating and to say his writing and research is provocative is a massive understatement.

This is more than your standard “organized religion is a scam to control humanity by unscrupulous bishops and priests”, Daugherty is flat out saying that a dark being is using Christianity itself to set the stage to take over our planet.

And if that is the kind of idea that you find fascinating like we do, then you’re going to want to learn more about The Christian Whistleblower and check out more of his books and videos. His combination of scholarship, earnestness, and dynamic presentation might even make you a believer.

This week’s song is an unreleased Sunspot track that we arranged for acoustic guitar and violin, “Flesh and Blood”.

Why did you let them take control.
of your mind?
Why couldn’t you see the could burst,
in your eye?
And I won’t believe
in a love that deceives
and I won’t waste my faith foolishly
on cosmic rays
and mysterious ways
that never gave a damn for us anyway
And heaven and earth can fade away
and the mountains might fall
and all the power to which we pray
might never answer our call
Flesh and blood is all we’ve got to survive
and I know
There but for grace or lack of, go I
You dreamed of Hell but you forgot
to look inside
The gravity of your hate weighs you down,
so why don’t you fight?
And the tragedy of humanity
is to know our shells might be empty
and do you feel no shame
for all these lives in vain?
Who would kill themselves just to honor his Name?
And heaven and earth can fade away
and the mountains might fall
and all the power to which we pray
might never answer our call
Eloi Eloi
Lama sabachthani
Eloi Eloi
Lama sabachtahni
And heaven and earth can fade away
and the mountains might fall
and all the power to which we pray
might never answer our call
Flesh and blood is all we’ve got to survive
and I know
There but for grace or lack of, go I.

96 – An Atheist In Heaven: Paul Davids and the Ghost of Forrest J. Ackerman

Forrest J. Ackerman was the editor of the Famous Monsters of Filmlanda magazine that he founded in 1958 to discuss his favorite thing – fantasy, science fiction, and horror movies. The magazine would go behind the scenes with special effects and stories on the people involved with the production.

famous monsters #1
The first issue of Famous Monsters of Filmland

The modern definition of a geek is someone in a circus sideshow who would run after chickens and bite their heads off. They would eat anything and this is where the modern idea comes from. We geeks love to learn anything and everything about their favorite pop culture. I used to devour books about Doctor Who when I was a kid, reading production diaries and stories about the set in addition to the actual shows and novels. The Internet makes it easy today to keep up on your favorites, but back in the 50s when Famous Monsters of Filmland came out to cash in on the first wave of classic Hollywood monster films finally hitting the TV airwaves, it was the only place to hear more about your favorite films.

x-files humbug geek
Jim Rose and The Enigma from the classic X-Files’ “Humbug” episode, featuring the original circus sideshow definition of a geek

As a young Paul Davids grew up in the Washington D.C. area in the 50s, he fell in love with the fantasy and science fiction films of that era. He made home movies and sent stills in to Famous Monsters magazine which would publish them and encourage building a community of aspiring imaginative filmmakers. After he grew up, he joined the Hollywood Circus during the American New Wave of auteurs (a movement that spawned legends like Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, and Steven Spielberg.)

Paul Davids Forrest J Ackerman
Paul Davids and Forrest J. Ackerman at a Comic Con signing

Davids became a personal friend of Ackerman (who everyone called ‘Uncle Forry’) and spent a lot of time at the “Ackermansion”, the editor’s Hollywood home with massive amounts of movie memorabilia that he would open to visitors on weekends.

forrest j ackerman ackermansion
Forrest J. Ackerman surrounded by a little of his movie memorabilia

Paul Davids would go on to become production coordinator on the original Transformers cartoon (one of my personal favorites!) A few years later, a personal UFO encounter in Los Angeles (which he describes in the episode) would lead him to produce the Showtime movie, Roswell (which we talked about in-depth with Don Schmitt about in an earlier podcast.) His close friendship with Ackerman would lead to the production of a documentary called The Sci-Fi Boys as well in 2006, detailing the influence that Famous Monsters had on a generation of filmmakers from John Landis to Peter Jackson who would end up taking over the blockbuster film industry.

Roswell Movie
The 1994 Roswell movie that introduced the most famous UFO crash to the modern generation

While both Paul Davids and Forrest Ackerman loved their fantasy and science fiction films, neither of them were religious and Forry himself was an atheist who didn’t have any belief in the afterlife. Which is why when he jokingly told his close friends that if there was some kind of life after death, he would try to communicate with them, they all had a good laugh.

Forrest J. Ackerman passed away in December of 2008 at the ripe old age of 92, but he had the last laugh. Within two weeks of a special tribute to Ackerman at Hollywood’s Egyptian Theatre (a place we also talk about in our Ghosts of Hollywood Boulevard episode), strange things started occurring to his friends. Davids himself started getting weird messages and synchronicities and after too many of them occurred, he started taking his evidence to any scientist that would listen. By 2010, he’d already written an article for FATE magazine detailing his experiences.

an atheist in heaven
Cover of An Atheist In Heaven

The result of his research and all the strange occurrences are his documentaries,  The Life After Death Project Volumes 1 and 2 where he gives all of his proof of what he’s experiences since his friend’s death.  Davids also recently completed a book with Dr. Gary Schwartz (a scientist who doesn’t shy away from researching the afterlife) called An Atheist In Heaven: The Ulimate Evidence of Life After Death

For this week, we thought it would be fun to try a Nerdcore song as part of our tribute to one of the world’s greatest geeks, who continues to influence, even from beyond the grave! This Sunspot track is called “Behind The Curtain”.

For a whole generation
he was the inspiration
stoked the imagination
of the Monster nation

Didn’t buy predestination
or a soul relocation,
No belief in Heaven,
or any reincarnation

But at his end of aspiration
his human cancellation
they think he’s playing tricks
afterdeath communication

So they put this complication
under examination
and now they give the Afterlife
reconsideration

Please pay attention to the man behind the curtain,
Because he’s somewhere in between,
Please pay attention to the man behind the curtain who,
you’ll hear from the dark side of the screen.

So this famous monster
is now an Atheist in Heaven.
And he’s still having fun
and he’s still making puns

He said he would come back someday
that he would communicate
but no one could anticipate
his paranormal wordplay

And if you think they’re cracking,
they lost their comprehension,
That there ain’t no action,
no final destination.

These guys have a conviction,
that his spirit is still living,
It’s really their Uncle Forry,
Scientists believe the story.

Please pay attention to the man behind the curtain,
Because he’s somewhere in between,
Please pay attention to the man behind the curtain who,
you’ll hear from the dark side of the screen.

A rock band's journey into the afterlife, UFOs, entertainment, and weird science.

X
- Enter Your Location -
- or -