177 – Mothman Delusion: A New Year’s Resolution for Paranormal Research

The biggest paranormal story in the Midwest in 2017 was the winged humanoid sightings over Chicago and we have covered the Chicago Mothman extensively over the past several months. First in episode 159, we interviewed the editor of Phantoms and Monsters blog where many of the Mothman sightings have been reported, then we brought on the great cryptozoologist Loren Coleman who just released a new book Mothman: Evil Incarnate.

What’s the Mothman? A dark winged humanoid with glowing red eyes, made most famous by a series of sightings in Point Pleasant, West Virginia in the late 1960s. The sightings were followed by UFOs, Men in Black, and a tragic bridge collapse 13 months after the initial sighting.

The Mothman statue in Point Pleasant, West Virginia

Fast forward to 2017 and the Mothman has been reported seen over the Chicagoland area dozens of times mostly to a blog called Phantoms and Monsters. My sister Allison has been looking at the stories and then doing investigations of the sites of each reported sighting over at her YouTube channel, http://www.youtube.com/mothman.

As she was digging she found inconsistencies in more and more of the accounts even going so far as having a private investigator look into a possible police report that was a featured account over the Summer. (She didn’t find it and either did the Chicago Tribune.) Plus, 3 out of the 4 Mothman reports that came into Illinois MUFON came from the same IP address (meaning same Wi-Fi network, meaning the same house.) She began to get skeptical whether or not there really are winged humanoids flying over Chicago.

For her efforts, she’s been interviewed on Midnight In The Desert  and featured on the Mysterious Universe blog, but needless to say it hasn’t made her popular with the Chicago Mothman investigators. So for this first episode of 2018, we wanted to give the Chicago Mothman one more discussion because it was such a big story around these parts. Sure, we’ll come back when there’s a “break” in the case, but the important part is that in this episode we talk about our renewed resolve to use the scientific method in our paranormal research (and Patrick Swayze, but you’ll have to listen to figure how he fits in!)

Joining us for this discussion are two Chicago Forteans, Madeline Kate from Measuring The Circle podcast and Sam Maranto, the state director of Illinois MUFON (who received some of the original reports!) Allison Jornlin of course is involved, as is Tobias Wayland of the Singular Fortean Society, who has been collecting the Mothman stories as part of the original Chicago Mothman Taskforce – he even shares a Mothman story from Rockford that he interviewed the witness personally!

It’s a good frank discussion about the Chicago Mothman – doubts, inconsistencies, disinformation campaigns, hoaxes, and all, as well as how we can try to all get along better as Fortean researchers.

UPDATE: Here’s an extra interview with a Mothman researcher (and Chicago native!)

And for this week’s song, we used some inspiration from good old Carl Sagan, the man who coined the phrase “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”. His book The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark is a treatise on the scientific method and critical thinking. Yeah, it’s a buzzkill but if we’re ever going to convince the skeptics we gotta take getting the facts seriously. Here’s Sunspot with “House of Cards”.

It’s a demon-haunted world
and you don’t get to dig a grave in my backyard.
you know we have to be the candle in the dark
You can’t build a dynasty on a house of cards.You might think that you’re a monster but you’re just a quack
talking a lot of smack setting the whole field back
a lotta tall tales comin piling up to nothin
looking for the clicks and acting like like a d$%@.

it’s a curiosity, all this privacy
anonymity, who can you believe?
You can tell me all day ‘bout the trash you heard
doesn’t matter how absurd unless stand by your word

All this animosity comes down to money
You’re misrepping all the data just to fit your theory
You wanna sell books or you want some truth?
It sure looks to me you ain’t much of a sleuth

It’s a demon-haunted world
and you don’t get to dig a grave in my backyard.
you know we have to be the candle in the dark
You can’t build a dynasty on a house of cards.

Extraordinary claims, extraordinary proof
winged dudes on the roof kinda sounds like a goof
we need a real witness not all anonymous
how bout some testimony don’t sound like baloney.

Detail needs to be there, you know they’re gonna nitpick,
eaten by the cynics, defeated by the skeptics
t’s need to be crossed, you can’t just gloss,
over all the small stuff or things are gonna get rough.

Gotta share the data, info wants to be free,
transparency, no secrecy,
It takes all kinds of different minds
if we want it to be better, we gotta work together.

It’s a demon-haunted world
and you don’t get to dig a grave in my backyard.
you know we have to be the candle in the dark
You can’t build a dynasty on a house of cards.

176 – New York Times UFO Bombshell: Debriefing With John E. L. Tenney

 When the New York Times UFO story came out online on December 16th, it was the very definition of a bombshell in the paranormal community. When the “Paper of Record” decides to write about heretofore unknown government program out of the blue on a Saturday in December, several questions immediately spring to mind…

  • Are they finally coming clean on what they really know?
  • Who saw this coming?
  • Why is the story coming out now, 5 years later?
  • Is that the guy from Tom DeLonge’s To The Stars Academy?
  • Wait, is the guy from Blink-182 right about this?

If you missed it, the New York Times UFO  story is about a now partly-declassified government program initiated in 2007 by Nevada senator Harry Reid. Much of the money went to the aerospace company of Robert Bigelow, a billionaire and friend of Reid who has been interested in UFOs for a long time. The funding was called “Black money” because it wasn’t debated the floor of the Senate, but with a meager budget appropriation of 22 million dollars and its security-sensitive nature, it was able to slip under the radar.

new york times ufo luis elizondo
Here’s Luis Elzondo. You trust a guy with a beard like that?

Featured in the article is Luis Elizondo, who worked for the Pentagon investigating these cases until he resigned in October of this year and joined Tom DeLonge’s To The Stars Academy. The story basically states that yes, pilots have seen craft flying that they cannot explain, some elements of the government believe that they are extraterrestrials, and there has been research into “mysterious alloys” that might be related to the UFO sightings.

new york times ufo john tenet
John Tenney

Our guest this week, John E.L. Tenney is a supernatural shamus who has been studying paranormal phenomena for over thirty years. He is the host of the excellent Realm of the Weird podcast as well as a noted lecturer. We first met John in person at this year’s Michigan Paranormal Conference after being a fan of his podcast and writing.

John wrote an excellent blogpost with a very sober analysis of the New York Times UFO story and we knew we had to feature him on the show for an in-depth exploration of that same topic, so this episode Allison from Milwaukee Ghosts and I had a long and fun discussion with John focused on this story but also touching on ghosts, UFOs, and the cyclical nature of paranormal investigation.

For more on John Tenney, please visit his site at http://www.weirdlectures.com

Since our conversation with John, there’s been some more discussion of the story, with scientists chiming in on these “mysterious alloys” hinted at in the article. Scientific American has a decent clarification that any strange metal wouldn’t remain strange for long using modern but basic scientific methods and that we have a lot of experience with objects that have crashed to earth from space. The article states that the real research was into the physiological effects that people claimed happened to them after coming into contact with the objects. So the jury is still out on that one.

Well, since we’re talking about Blink-182 and Tom DeLonge, we thought it was a perfect opportunity to write a Blink-style 90s pop-punk track. We laughed about their music being mostly “Power Chords and Poop Jokes”, but that we enjoyed it anyway, and really we just couldn’t resist naming a song that!

They came in a dream
when I was thirteen
They said I was the chosen one.
To lead the human race
out of this lonely place
to meet spacemen beyond the sun

Only a Top Ten Hit
can expose the government.

You just need guitars
To go to the stars
with power chords and poop jokes
if you’ve got power chords and poop jokes
Even a poser,
can get disclosure
with power chords and poop jokes
you need power chords and poop jokes
and when the aliens finally come they’ll know our band is number one.

Just because you’re famous,
You’re not an ignoramus
even if you are a bit uncouth
Have an X-Files fiesta
Hangout with John Podesta
and you can finally learn the truth

I heard that UFO buffs
just love to buy more stuffs

You just need guitars
To go to the stars
with power chords and poop jokes
if you’ve got power chords and poop jokes
Even a poser,
can get disclosure
with power chords and poop jokes
you need power chords and poop jokes
and when the aliens finally come they’ll know my band is number one.

175 – Elves: More Than Just Santa’s Little Helpers

When most people think about elves in the modern day, they either think about Legolas in The Lord of the Rings or they think about the short little fairy like creatures with Mr. Spock ears that make toys for Santa Claus.

elves
I’m a sexy elf.
elves
I am not a sexy elf.

Now, Santa’s Workshop and the elves that build his toys is a creation of mid-Nineteenth Century magazines, but the history of elves goes a lot deeper than just working overtime at the North Pole.

In this episode, we talk about where Santa’s helpers came from historically, but we also explore the millennia-old legends of elves, how Christian missionaries turned them into Satan’s little helpers (not a typo!) and how these nature spirits might still just be running around Iceland. In fact, in Iceland there’s The Elf School which teaches their history on the island and an Elf Whisperer who will have you over for tea with leaves grown by her little friends!

And here’s an interview Allison got with Magnus from The Elf School!

elves
These Icelandic elves are ready to haunt your dreams

For this week’s song, we took a poem that was written anonymously in 1857 for Harper’s Weekly and put some music to it. There just aren’t enough Christmas songs that talk about Santa’s elves. Since this poem was one of the first documents of St. Nick’s sweatshop, we are excited to be the first ones to immortalize it in song! Here is Sunspot with “The Wonders of Santa Claus”.

Beyond the ocean many a mile,
And many a year ago,
There lived a queer old man
In a wonderful house of snow;
And every little boy and girl,
As Christmas Eves arrive,
No doubt are overjoyed to hear,
The old man’s still alive.

In his house upon a hill,
And almost out of sight,
He keeps his many elves at work,
working with all their might,
To make a million pretty things,
Cakes, sugar-plums, and toys,
To fill the stockings, hung up
By the little girls and boys.

It would be capital for sure,
to glimpse his wondrous shop;
But when he hears a stranger he
Orders the elves to stop;
And the house, and work, and workmen all
just take a little twist,
just when you think they that are there,
They’re off in a frosty mist.

In his house upon a hill,
And almost out of sight,
He keeps his many elves at work,
working with all their might,
To make a million pretty things,
Cakes, sugar-plums, and toys,
To fill the stockings, hung up
By the little girls and boys.

It were an endless task to tell,
The length his list extends,
Of curious gifts the queer old man
Prepares for Christmas friends.
You might be guessing who he is,
And the country whence he came.
Why, he was born in Turkey,
And St. Nicholas is his name.

In his house upon a hill,
And almost out of sight,
He keeps his many elves at work,
working with all their might,
To make a million pretty things,
Cakes, sugar-plums, and toys,
To fill the stockings, hung up
By the little girls and boys.

174 – Mothman: Evil Incarnate with Loren Coleman

This week we have two 50th anniversary tragedies that we talk about on the podcast, one musical and one paranormal. The first is that in Madison we’re acknowledging the half-centennial of the death of Otis Redding, whose plane crashed into Lake Monona on December 10th, 1967. He was only 26 years old, just a year off the cursed 27 Club.

The second tragic anniversary has many more overtones of high strangeness. The Silver Bridge collapsed in Point Pleasant, West Virginia on December 15th, 2017 thirteen months to the day after the first reported sighting of the Mothman.

mothman evil incarnate loren coleman
The Mothman as drawn by an eyewitness in 1966.

The Mothman was a winged humanoid with red eyes that people were seeing in the area as well as getting an overwhelming sense of dread.  Once the mothman sightings started happening, other paranormal events began rearing their head. Reports of Men in Black, UFOs, prophetic dreams, and a strange grinning man by the name of Indrid Cold started circulating and everything culminated in the tragic Silver Bridge collapse that killed 46 people on December 15th, 1967.

Researcher John Keel famously collected all these stories and really created the modern narrative of the Mothman with his book, The Mothman Prophecies, in 1975.  It famously becomes a big Hollywood movie in 2002. When Keel became unable to do press for the film, he called upon his old friend  Loren Coleman to handle the interviews.

loren coleman mothman evil incarnate
Allison Jornlin with Loren Coleman (second from left) at the 2016 Milwaukee Paranormal Conference

Now to say that Loren is a noted cryptozoologist is an understatement, he’s one of the most respected researchers in the field and I’ve been reading his books for decades. He wrote Mothman and Other Curious Encounters in 2002 and even John Keel called it “the most complete overview of the phenomenon.”

Fast forward to 2017 and the Mothman is back in the headlines. This time with alleged sightings all over the Chicagoland area. Allison from Milwaukee Ghosts has been going to the location of the sightings that have been reported and creating videos of the area to help people visualize them. It’s an eye opening look into the painstaking investigative process. Check out her YouTube channel to see her dozens of on-location videos at http://www.youtube.com/mothman.

The anniversary of the Silver Bridge collapse, December 15th, is also  Loren Coleman’s latest book comes out , Mothman: Evil Incarnate. The Mothman hasn’t been content to be in the shadows. Loren talks about the Mothman Death Curse and the misfortune that seems to surround people who find themselves investigating this strange phenomenon decades after the original incident, book, and movie.

This episode is not only a great primer in the history of the Mothman case, but it’s also an insightful look into how Loren Coleman became one of the world’s greatest cryptozoologists as Allison and I get to discuss his investigative process with him.

To get a signed copy of Mothman: Evil Incarnate, click here to buy a signed copy from Loren’s awesome International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

In the episode, we also talk about Wendy’s visit to the Mothman museum in Point Pleasant, West Virginia and her pilgrimage to the new Silver Bridge. Wendy watched The Mothman Prophecies and listened to the original book this summer on a roadtrip and you can check out her reactions above as part of Scott Markus‘ fun video series “A Ghost Hunter Watches”.

One of the things that was surprising about the Mothman story is how UFOs and weirdness seems to occur in Point Pleasant as well, it’s like they didn’t just get one X-File, they got the whole cabinet. Indrid Cold was a mysterious character who showed up during the events and asked people about the lights they saw in the sky. He made mysterious phone calls to Keel, talked to the local reporter, and even was said by one report to speak to someone telepathically.  He was so smily and strange, they called him The Grinning Man.

We don’t feel there’s been enough attention given to Mr. Cold so for this week’s track, we decided to write him his own song. This is Sunspot with “The Grinning Man”.

A form made of chaos
it can smell the blood on you
this planet haunted by us
and the owners want their due

a thin veneer
hiding a zone of fear

it knows your wobbliest spots
sees inside your darkest of hearts
knows every little trick that helps you lose your soul

a banshee screams
burned right into your dreams

When the black wings flutter and red eyes look about
you’ll see the grinning man when the lights go out
then the telephone rings, there’s no one at the end
you’ll see the grinning man when the lights go dead

it knows your wobbliest spots
sees inside your darkest of hearts
this planet haunted by us
the owners want their due

a thin veneer
hiding a zone of fear

When the black wings flutter and red eyes look about
you’ll see the grinning man when the lights go out
then the telephone rings, there’s no one at the end
you’ll see the grinning man when the lights go dead

173 – Santa Claus Is Real: Toys, Traditions, and Tulpas

Ho ho ho, friends, it’s a Yuletide tradition for us to uncover the weirdest stories we can about the Christmas season and this Holiday is no different. In the past we’ve covered everything from Krampus to Icelandic Christmas monsters to Holiday ghost stories and Alien Jesus, but we’ve hardly talked about the star of the show in most children’s imagination over the holidays, and that is Santa Claus! It’s St. Nick’s Day on December 6th, so we thought this is the perfect week to talk about him.

In this episode we go through the long history of Saint Nicholas, from his beginnings as a young holy man in 4th century Turkey who came from a rich family and was a deeply generous bishop who saved young women from lives of prostitution to eventually being venerated as a saint because he brought three murdered children back from the dead and he telepathically appeared in the dreams of Emperor Constantine. Awesome, right?

And while Saint Nicholas was a hugely popular saint in Europe in the Middle Ages, he wasn’t always a bearded fat man in a red fur suit who cam e down your chimney,  that didn’t happen until he came to the New World and was popularized as a character in Clement Clarke Moore’s “A Visit From St. Nicholas” poem in 1822 and Thomas Nast’s illustrations in the 1870s. And of course, Coke spent a ton of money advertising the jolly old elf too, helping out with that red and white suit he’s famous for.

santa claus is real coca-cola
Santa needs some of that “old school” Coca-Cola so he can stay up all night to bring you gifts!

Because Christmas itself is a little bit of a Pagan holiday (burning the Yule log a the Winter Solstice has been going on way before Baby Jesus), there’s a touch of Pagan in our Santa Claus, influenced by Odin and his eight-legged horse! And of course even Saint Nick can’t please everyone, because some Christians think that Santa is actually an avatar of Satan. And while most of us might think that’s kinda funny, the same Puritans who gave us Thanksgiving (ahem… and the Salem Witch Trials) also banned Christmas and made celebrating it a punishable offense. There was too much drinking, too much revelry, and just too much fun for them. The Puritans thought of it was a wasteful and decadent celebration, so they banned it in the New World and in England for a few decades in the Seventeenth Century.

santa claus is real santa's slay
Maybe Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans knew something about St. Nick that we don’t…

Truly my favorite part of this discussion though is when we start getting down to brass tacks. Santa Claus is real and people have been reporting sightings of him for awhile now. Yes, the same way they report sightings of Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, and UFOs. Kids and adults have seen Santa under the tree, they’ve seen him and his sleigh flying over their houses, they’ve seen him peering into their bedrooms… Yeah, I was taken aback as well.

So, what is it? Is there really an immortal who lives at the North Pole and stops time every year on Christmas Eve to deliver presents to the good boys and girls of the world? Could hundreds of millions of children believe him into existence? A tulpa created with the Christmas wishes of centuries of kids? Could there be something supernatural happening and the kids just interpret it as Santa Claus, kinda like the High Strangeness UFO discussion we had with Robbie Graham and Mike Clelland? That’s gotta be up for you to decide. For me, it’s like my Mom always said, “If you believe in Santa, he’s real.”

A few years back, we participated in a Christmas benefit album for the Salvation Army, we put our own spin on a track called “Hey Santa” by Madison songwriter Joe Snare, who put the compilation together.

 

Hey Santa,
You’ll be coming soon,
I cut my hair and changed my tune,
I’m a brand new man this year.
Hey Santa,
I’ve been counting days,
I cleaned up all my nasty ways,
I got your message loud and clear.

That lump of coal you gave me last year really made your point.
I’ve toned it down a notch or two,
look how I cleaned up this joint.
You’ve got Christmas right there in your hands,
Hey, Santa, won’t you give me one more chance?

Hey Santa,
I’ve been clean and straight,
you got no need to hesitate,
put me on the witness stand.

I couldn’t help but notice how my tree was kinda bare,
last time Santa came to town, you didn’t leave a present there.
You’ve got Christmas right there in your hands,
Hey, Santa, won’t you give me one more chance?

Hey Santa,
When you fill your sack,
don’t forget about me, Jack.
Because I’ll be looking out for you, you know.

Now you and I know I’m not quite an angel or a saint,
I’m doing everything I can,
to be someone that I ain’t.
You’ve got Christmas right there in your hands,
Hey, Santa, won’t you give me one more chance?

172 – Science of Superheroes: Comic Books Versus Reality

Superheroes are bigger than ever. Between two versions of The Flash, Batman in the movies and a young Bruce Wayne on television,  Ghost Rider getting featured on network television, or even Doctor freakin’ Strange getting his own movie, we’ve come a long long way from the 1970s Incredible Hulk where they changed Bruce Banner’s name to David because they didn’t want the show to be too comic book-y and CBS thought the name Bruce was “too gay”.  Stay classy, 70s TV execs!

So this episode has a little bit for everyone who loves superhero stories and their weird blend of fantasy and science fiction.

This is the water jetpack user we talk about in the episode.

Then we bring on author Jen Reinfried to discuss her latest superhero-themed novel, Grim Vengeance. It’s a tale full of genetically manipulated superhumans (“Evos” and “Synths”) running around the Northwest city of Redborough. The story is narrated from the villain’s perspective and they tell the story of the city’s protector, Grim,  a nearly blind superhero who isn’t afraid to be the judge, jury, and executioner for Redborough’s criminal element. Jen gives us all the details on the release of her new novel as well as its inspirations in our discussion.

jennifer reinfried grim trilogy
Author of A Grim Trilogy, Jennifer Reinfried

If you’re interested in reading any of A Grim Trilogy, just check out the site right here, it’s a steal at 99 cents a book on Kindle and you can get signed physical copies as well!

One of the things we discussed in this episode that we hate hate hate is when superheroes gain extra powers just so that the story line can be resolved. It’s a cheat when writers do that because we deserve a well thought ending. When the Greeks did it, they called it Deus Ex Machina, “the God from the Machine” because they would often end plays with a Greek God coming down and solving the problem and the apparatus they used to lower them onto the stage from above was called “the Machine”. Shows and movies still do it all the time, they write themselves into a corner and they have something magical which you didn’t know about previously save the day. Think how suddenly Rose has the power of the Time Vortex in “Parting of the Ways” from Doctor Who, or the complete cop-out “Star Child” ending of V: The Final Battle (also created by the man who brought us The Incredible Hulk TV show), or the many times Adam West’s Batman had just the right tool on his utility belt for whatever job was required.

Anyway, we thought it was a cool title for a song and it deals with the augmenting of humans, which fits perfectly into Jennifer’s novel. Anyway, it’s the soundtrack to those of us counting down the days to the Singularity, here is Sunspot with “Deus Ex Machina”

When I’m online,
I’m in the congregation,
a collective mind,
Deus Ex Machina.
Info addicts,
digital sinners.
We need our fix,
Deus Ex Machina.

I was 403 but now am found,
upload my prayers up to the cloud,
my final Sacrament will be,
an upgraded me.

Porno buffet,
I’m the Rocking Horse Winner,
Straight or gay,
Deus Ex Machina.

Download our souls on microchips,
upload our hopes to a matrix.
A 2.0 baptism
worship the system.

Collect me,
protect me.
Just please don’t disconnect me.
We will live forever,
zeroes and ones.

Unflesh me,
and bless me.
Take this sick body from me.
This meat is weary,
this mortal coil is done.

We don’t have to suffer, we don’t have to die,
no commandments to run our life.
We will pray to a new God,
a God we create.

One that doesn’t judge, one that doesn’t smite.
One that doesn’t care about wrong or right.
Data into blood,
Transubstantiate.

I was 403 but now am found,
upload my prayers up to the cloud,
my final Sacrament will be,
an upgraded me.

Collect me,
protect me.
Just please don’t disconnect me.
We will live forever,
zeroes and ones.

Unflesh me,
and bless me.
Take this sick body from me.
This meat is weary,
this mortal coil is done.

Deus Ex Machina.
Thy will be done.

 

171 – Darkest Hour: The Paranormal Life of Winston Churchill

It’s getting near the  end of the year, so that means it’s  Oscar-bait time and one of the performances getting great reviews this season is Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour. Of course, Gary Oldman isn’t afraid of a radical transformation (just see his work as a computer-generated dwarf in the movie Tiptoes) and the skinny Oldman gets out the fat suit to play the more squat Sir Winston. The movie looks good and I’m a sucker for World War II flicks, especially set during the Blitz .

While we all know Churchill from his amazing speeches and his steadfastness in the face of the Nazi threat, he also had plenty of supernatural experiences as well.

In this episode we talk about

So, there’s plenty of stories about the paranormal life of Winston Churchill, but as the “Last Lion” of the British Empire, he was a man very much of his time with an aura of greatness that proceeds him as almost no other leader of the Twentieth Century. He was a great author, orator, leader, and politician and helped shape our world.

We mention him in our song “No Place Like Home” because it’s that greatness that this song is looking for, the idea that you have to run away to find your purpose because you’ll never find it where you grew up. But we don’t always get to choose where we are most needed, where we are most valuable. Churchill was perfectly suited to his time and his place, but even when it doesn’t feel like it, aren’t we all exactly where we are supposed to be?

I was looking for any kind of way out,
I’ve been planning my escape since the day that I was born,
I took a map, threw a dart, and hit a target.
Anywhere but here was a better place to be for me.I am the puzzle that is missing lots of pieces,
I am  the paint by numbers that don’t all add up.
I am the Christmas gift with batteries not included,
I am the greatest book you ever read whose ending sucks.I said that I was coming back as a big shot,
when I found more of my kind,
I promised I would have a laugh at the townies,
the poor bastards left behind.I left town like a prison break,
Anywhere was better than this place,
I thought I was a rolling stone,
When I went out to the Twilight Zone,
But in the end there’s no place like home.There must be some kind of error in the geography,
I’ll never grow old in this locality,
I’m Buck in the 25th century,
I felt like Dorothy, but don’t call me Dorothy.
I always felt like I belonged in the 70s.
or with Churchill or even DaVinci,
but the further I run from this proximity,
The bigger the hole gets inside of me.

I’m still the puzzle that is missing lots of pieces,
but I’m not lonely anymore.
We’re all expatriates confused by our coordinates,
The cosmic refugees who washed up on this shore.

I left town like a prison break,
Anywhere was better than this place,
I thought I was a rolling stone,
When I went out to the Twilight Zone,
I left town like a prison break,
Anywhere was better than this place,
I thought I was a rolling stone,
When I went out to the Twilight Zone,
But in the end there’s no place like home.
No place like home.
No place like home.
No place like home.

P.S. – Here’s the awesome map of UFO sightings we talk about in the episode from our friend, John. UFO sightings in Wisconsin broken down by city!

170 – City of the Dead: Taking on the Mackenzie Poltergeist with Fred Fogarty

Adventurer and storyteller Fred Fogarty has been working with City of the Dead Tours in Edinburgh, Scotland for over a decade. He leads ghost walks into the Covenanters’ Prison and the ‘Black Mausoleum’ in Greyfriars Graveyard, home of the infamous Mackenzie Poltergeist. It’s his job to stay calm when the Mackenzie Poltergeist attacks, inflicting physical effects on tourists including scratches, bite marks, bruises, welts, vomiting and loss of consciousness. We met Fred for the first time at the Chicago Paranormal Conference and since then we’ve known that we need to have him on the show! So, Fred was back in Chicago a couple of weeks ago and Allison went down to interview him in person with me Skyping in to make snarky remarks.
fred fogarty mackenzie poltergeist
Fred in front of George Mackenzie’s Tomb
 In addition to being a tour guide, Fred has spent the last five years developing a system of well-being that makes improving and maintaining mental health accessible, fun and enjoyable, and firmly where it belongs: within YOU. It’s called MindSpaOdyssey and you can check that out right here!
Now, in the episode you hear about the history of the Black Mausoleum and how the Mackenzie Poltergeist attacks began. It’s named after George Mackenzie, who helped orchestrate the murders of over 18,000 Scotsmen in the name of unifying them all under the Church of England during a period known as “The Killing Time”. After Charles II restored the Monarchy in the late 1600s, he wanted everyone back under the Anglican Church (where he was in charge). The Scottish were promised 50 years earlier that they could practice their Presbyterianism (in fact they signed a Covenant to do so, so they were known as the Convenanters.)
George Mackenzie imprisoned them, made them live under subhuman conditions unless they would submit to the will of the English Crown and Church and most of them died sad deaths in the Covenanters Prison and were buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard Cemetery onsite. When Mackenzie finally died, he was buried in a mausoleum which was on the site as well. In 1998, a vagrant broke into Mackenzie’s tomb and ransacked the place and that’s when the unusual attacks began on the living who visited the tomb.
Now, I mentioned the City of the Dead ghost tours before because I think it’s one of the best ghost tours in the world (and certainly my favorite). I took it on a vacation a few years back and believe I was touched by the Mackenzie Poltergeist myself! And man, my camera was crap at the time, but here’s some pictures and the journal entries I made the next morning after we took the tour!
City of the Dead Ghost Tour – July 25th 2008 10pm
The Greyfriars Courtyard, already spooky
We walked back to the hotel to get our jackets and raced to St. Giles’ Cathedral to the tour. We almost didn’t get there because it was nearly a half-hour walk from the hotel. There was at least 60 people on the walk and we made it just in time as the group started to move.  We went to Greyfriars Cemetery where over half a million bodies were buried (mostly plague victims) and got great views of Edinburgh Castle (which blew our minds, it’s situated on a hill overlooking a chasm, this city is improbably beautiful , like the Epcot Version of a Scottish city, where parts of it look like models from afar. )
The Black Mausoleum at night
The real scary story was from the Covenanters Prison and the Mackenzie Poltergeist. We went into the Black Mausoleum which was scary as Hell (and they juice you up with stories of attacks and knockouts ands such there) and told some good ghost stories but cheapened it with someone jumping out and causing a fake scare (the guide apologized and said his boss makes them do that.)
Inside the Black Mausoleum, I have no idea why I canted the angle of this picture!
I didn’t feel anything, except for a tapping on my left shoulder, but I think that was my imagination combined with adrenaline. The tour was great fun, though, and we loved it.
The view of Edinburgh Castle from Greyfriars was astounding and you can see how it influenced Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley, JK Rowling, Charles Dickens, and Robert Louis Stevenson.  
Now that’s a  castle!
So if you’re in Edinburgh, don’t miss this tour, for real!
Fred is also going to be at the first ever Hawaii ParaCon, taking place July 13-15, 2018 and we talk about this in the episode as well. This is going to be a really special destination kind of event, and if you’re interested (and you should be, it’s the Paranormal in Paradise!) then make sure to check it out, it’s going to be something spectacular!
This week’s song of course is inspired by that right bastard George Mackenzie and the energies of hate and vengeance that swirl around inside the Black Mausoleum and the Kirkyard. It’s a new Sunspot track called “The Killing Time”.

The air is thick with hatred and envy,
Souls that aren’t just looking for some peace,
A madness that we dare not comprehend,
the angry dead are looking for revenge.

All gone in the killing time
All gone in the killing time

Seething rage, unceasing hate
To burn the living kind,
Mercy and kindness slayed with the headsman’s blade
All gone in the killing time.

169 – Hunting The Witch’s Familiar: Dr. Martin Walsh And The Zanzibar Leopard

The last time we had Dr. Martin Walsh on we discussed his experiences in Zanzibar during the Popobawa panic in the mid-90s and we knew that there was more that we wanted to talk to him about. Not only is Dr. Walsh an anthropologist who has studied social phenomena for decades, he’s also one of the leaders of the search for the Zanzibar Leopard, a unique species of big cat thought to be possibly extinct.

zanzibar leopard martin walsh
A stuffed version of the Zanzibar Leopard

Zanzibar is an island off the coast of Tanzania and because of that separation, it’s thought that the leopard native to the island developed in isolation for thousands of years. It became smaller than mainland leopards as well as literally “changing its spots”,  but it also was a victim of local folklore and that has contributed to its disappearance.

As Dr. Walsh wrote with his partner in the quest for the leopard, Dr. Helle Goldman in their work, “Killing the king: the demonization and extermination of the Zanzibar leopard“, while there has always been friction between humans and leopards (with documented attacks on livestock and even children) a legend that the leopards belonged to witches made the beasts a feared animal much of the time.

martin walsh helle goldman zanzibar leopard
Helle Goldman reviewing camera trap footage in September 2017

But that ended after the 1964 Zanzibar Revolution. A witch-hunter named Kitanzi led a movement to eliminate these witches from the island, and slaughtering the leopards was one way of getting that done. This extermination continued all the way to the 1990s and by that point a researcher hadn’t documented a wild Zanzibar leopard sighting since the 80s. In rural areas of the island though, reports of the leopard still turn up and that’s where our heroes have to look.

martin walsh helle goldman Zanzibar leopard
Another view of the faded stuffed leopard in the Zanzibar museum

Walsh and Goldman are following the case of the Zanzibar leopard like a Bigfoot hunter or a Nessie aficionado, they’re cryptozoological investigators who are hunting a mysterious animal and trying to find any evidence of its continued existence. That’s what this interview is all about and if you’re interested in cryptozoology or African culture,  there is a lot for you to enjoy in this episode.

martin walsh zanzibar leopard
Walsh interviewing local wildlife expert Shabani Imani in September 2017 (he’d recently fallen out of a coconut palm!)

In fact, in this interview, Martin talks about how sometimes people claim to have the leopards and they’ll contact Tanzanian wildlife officials saying they’ve captured one. One time they even said that they had leopard cubs in captivity, but when the proof was required, all they really seemed to be were a couple of (admittedly very cute) kittens.

martin walsh helle goldman zanzibar leopard
These look like leopard cubs to you?

If you’re academically inclined (and even if you’re not, it’s a fascinating read), please check out  Drs. Walsh and Goldman’s papers on “Cryptids and credulity: the Zanzibar leopard and other imaginary beings” and “Chasing imaginary leopards: science, witchcraft and the politics of conservation in Zanzibar“. We encourage you to check out their blog as well, it’s an awesome resource in learning how to hunt cryptids scientifically!

dr martin walsh zanzibar leopard
Dr. Martin Walsh

Now, not that this obsession consumed Martin (that we know of!) because the Zanzibar Leopard was killed off by superstition and political unrest, but the song this week inspired by the conversation is a little more about the Captain Ahab-esque hole that you can dig yourself into when your interest becomes an obsession, this is a new Sunspot track called “Chasing Devils”.

You dreamed of danger
you dreamed of risk
You dreamed of chasing devils dusk to dawn and waiting for their kiss
You wished for abuse
Hoped for neglect
Wishing for an oppressor you could fight and a cause you could insurrect

You want to roam
far away from home
but these imaginary devils
are all better left alone
And when they’re found
they won’t make a sound
because the creatures of the night will be gone
when you finally come down

You wanted action
You made it hot,
But the more you got the more you needed and the more that you got lost.
The taste of danger
the sweet of risk
When you’re busy chasing devils you’re too high to know you’re sick

You went to roam
far away from home
but these imaginary devils
were all better left alone
When they were found
they made no sound
because the creatures of the night were all gone
when you finally came down

And, hey, we’ve got a double dose of art this week, Allison from Milwaukee Ghosts was so inspired by the conversation that she wrote a poem, check it out!

Imaginary Animals

The leopard in the dark,
Was it ever really there?
Eyes dilate to welcome the night,
Body bristling,
Holding your breath,
Shuddering,
As it passes beside you,
Close enough to brush your skin.
That is certain.
Isn’t it?
Some sensation fanned out within,
Tasting it,
Feeling the heat,
Fingers of energy,
Reaching out and scalding,
Wheels of light,
Spiralling deep inside,
Spinning,
Dizzying,
Then nothing.
Conspicuously alone,
Again.
Left wondering,
What remains,
When the sacred night crumbles?

168 – Stranger Things and Soul Cakes: Facts You Didn’t Know About Halloween

Hey, it’s Halloween time again and we’ve been watching Stranger Things 2  to get in the mood for our favorite holiday. Especially because the new show takes place during the Halloween of 1984.  And while we’ve explored Halloween a couple times in the past, including the urban legends that surround the holiday and an in-depth discussion of the phenomenon of Devil’s Night, there’s still plenty that we can learn about the holiday.

stranger things milwaukee paranormal conference
Outside the Jabberwocky’s Ball at the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference – Wendy and I are hanging out with our friends Corey from Phantasmagoria Photo and Scott Markus from What’s Your Ghost Story.com It was a Alice in Wonderland-themed event, so we went simple with the costumes!

So, with all the nostalgia of Stranger Things 2 from Ghostbusters to Dragon’s Lair, we decided to reminisce a little about our own Halloweens past as well as look to discover some facts that we didn’t know before about the Holiday. And we did! From soul cakes to snapdragon, Allhallowtide to the origin of the word “bonfire”, we cover a ton of little known fact about the best holiday out there.

Plus we even uncover a new story (to us) about the 1980s’ Satanic Panic! There’s tons of fun in our 2017 Halloween special.

If you’re looking for fun songs to enjoy for Halloween, look no further than our Sunspot Halloween playlist – we’re counting down our personal favorite songs that are perfect for the Holiday! Follow our Instagram at http://www.instagram.com/othersidepodcast to see all of the songs!

This week’s Sunspot track is inspired but the nostalgia of Stranger Things because we’re going back to the Junior High Fall dance. This industrial-ish number is all about how the little things of your youth, like your first heartbreak or your first kiss can affect the rest of your life, for good or for bad. We’re an accumulation of our experiences and our emotional reactions are often developed by events that happened to us when we were very different people. It’s hard to escape that “Ancient History”.

The little boy was glassy eyed
they kissed on the pumpkin hayride
just another notch on her notebook
he wrote a note in seventh hour
he passed it on through her best friend
but in phy ed is where it would sour
he would never be the same
his heart was bitter now
all his lungs inflamed
she knew what she was doing to him
Ancient history
always sneaks up on you
ancient history
will never let you go
ancient history
remembers every putdown
ancient history
always comes round
The little girl was terrified
and at the harvest dance, he lied
when he whispered a secret in her ear
She thought she was gonna die,
but the parking lot was just so big
And then there was nowhere that    to hide.
she would never be the same
her heart was bitter now
all her lungs inflamed
and he knew what he was doing to her
Ancient history
always sneaks up on you
ancient history
will never let you go
ancient history
remembers every putdown
ancient history
always comes round

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

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