115 – Deadly Candy: Legends and History of Halloween

Since it’s our favorite time of year, we thought we’d spend an episode talking about the history of Halloween, our favorite Halloween legends, Halloween costumes, and share some personal Halloween stories.

wendy2
Speak of the Devil… Sunspot’s 2000 Halloween costume was positively “horny” nyuk nyuk nyuk
Halloween 2000 Ben
Have no fear, friends, that’s not a real cobweb!
And for Halloween that year, I went as a guy with two chins!
And for Halloween that year, Mike went as a guy with two chins!

From the ancient Celts of the British Isles  and theirAutumn Samhain festival which they believed was the time where the veil between the worlds of this life and the next was super thin to the origin of the world Halloween (think All Hallow’s Eve, the night before All Souls’ Day!), we cover all you need to know about everyone’s favorite dressing up holiday (and how that holiday used to be on Thanksgiving instead!)

Scottish Sunspot on Halloween 2000!
Scottish Sunspot on Halloween 2000!

We’ve gone as a lot of group costumes for Halloween and talk about some of the best costumes we’ve seen at the various shows we’ve played to celebrate the holiday. The Sunspot Witch Project, which was our Halloween costume in 2001 was a fun one because all we had to do was recycle our flannels that were left in our closets from living int the mid-1990s. Just add a hat like Doug or Bob McKenzie and instant Halloween costume, ya hosers!

strange brew
Looking’ good in your toques, eh!

mike1 sunspot2 wendy1

Of course we have to delve into the urban legends of Halloween, including the truth behind the needles and pins in candy rumors that traumatized our trick or treating as youths as well as the “dead person mistaken for a Halloween decoration” (spoiler alert: both legends have a real basis in fact!)

Have you seen this boy? Halloween 2004.
Have you seen this boy? Halloween 2004. Wow, and if Mike’s face was any rounder he could have gone as the Pillsbury Terminator!

Mike shares a real-life ghost story and adventure from an abandoned supposedly haunted hotel in Mukwonago, Wisconsin called Rainbow Springs and everyone discusses their favorite Halloween-related shows, from The Great Pumpkin to the unexpectedly terrifying Garfield Halloween Adventure.

Super Sunspot Bros and The Princess!
Super Sunspot Bros and The Princess!

So, sit back and enjoy the episode if you wanna learn all about the history of Halloween and how it became the awesome holiday we celebrate today.

And last but not least, here’s Wendy and Mike as a coupla rockin’ zombies from The Raven’s Ball at this year’s Milwaukee Paranormal Conference.

For this week’s track, we took inspiration from the usual cable TV network Halloween programming, which loves to run specials about Satanism. Satanists embrace Halloween as a time when the rest of the world explores its own darkness and it’s their biggest holiday (besides a Satanist’s birthday!) One of the most talked about Satanic magic spells is the Destruction Ritual, a meditation based on cursing an enemy. It’s their most dangerous rite, and we thought it would make the perfect subject for a song. Take a listen to “Destruction Ritual”.

Hail Satan!
Hail Satan!

Is such a silly cliche.

Vengeance is mine!
Vengeance is mine!
And you can have it anyway.

Let’s play the game where you were never born.
I’d love to watch your demise.
Through these very eyes,
on fire with spite and scorn.

Hail Satan!
Hail Satan!

It just sounds stupid when you say,

Vengeance is mine!
Vengeance is mine!

Cause all this hate will rot your brain.

Let’s play the game where you were never born.
I’d love to watch your demise.
Through these very eyes,
on fire with spite and scorn.

Mind your thoughts and where they tread,
Be careful where you leave your head,
These words are better left unsaid,
Be careful where you leave your head.

114 – Ghosts of Riverfish: The Peculiar Haunting of Erin Petti

First things first here’s a big announcement… our very own Allison Jornlin from Milwaukee Ghosts was awarded the very first Wisconsin Paranormal Researcher of the Year award! Huzzah!

Allison Jornlin - Wisconsin Paranormal Reseaecher od the Year!
Allison Jornlin – Wisconsin Paranormal Researcher of the Year!

It really was a privilege to be part of the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference this last weekend. Wendy and I had a chance to lead the interview session with Paranormal Lockdown‘s Katrina Weidman and we all got to see a special never-before-shown preview of their 2016 Halloween special. It was fun and she was really down-to-earth. The whole convention was an ace mix of healthy skepticism, open mindedness,  and intellectual curiosity. It was great making lots of new friends and solidifying existing friendships with other paranormal lovers.

Speaking of new friends, this episode features an interview with our new friend, children’s book author Erin Petti. She’s just released a new novel called The Peculiar Haunting of Thelma Bee. Much like we were just saying about the mix of healthy skepticism and open-minded imagination that we found in Milwaukee this past weekend, Thelma is always conducting scientific experiments while being close friends with a paranormal investigator.

After her father receives a strange jewelry box at his antique shop, he disappears, seemingly kidnapped by ghosts. Now it’s up to Thelma, an extraordinary unceasingly curious eleven-year old dynamo living in Riverfish, Massachussetts to solve the mystery and bring her father home.

Children's Author Erin Petti at the release of The Peculiar Haunting of Thelma Bee
Children’s Author Erin Petti at the release of The Peculiar Haunting of Thelma Bee

Sounds like a fun book, and if Erin Petti’s prose is as delightful as her conversation, then A Peculiar Haunting of Thelma Bee should be a big hit. Growing up near the Boston area, Erin caught the supernatural bug while reading Anne Rice’s classic Interview With The Vampire and that was her gateway into the wonderful world of genre fiction. In the interview we geek out on Lestat and even the Guns n’ Roses version of “Sympathy for the Devil” that featured in the closing credit of the movie.

brad pitt tom cruise interview with the vampire
The world’s studliest men wearing make up in 1994…

From being “the friend who loved the Ouija Board in high school” to working summers at the mansion in Salem that inspired Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The House of the Seven Gables to the ghost stories of Emerson College, Erin Petti is extremely well-versed in the supernatural lore of New England.

And that’s one of the aspects of a great paranormal story. How many times have we talked about the original Ghostbusters on our show? Probably a thousand (in only 114 episodes!) But we consistently declare that it’s not just the classic comedy that keeps us watching, but Dan Aykroyd’s depth of knowledge of paranormal activity and psychical research. His affection is what makes it timeless for weirdos like us to keep coming back.

It’s this well of affection for New England (Riverfish is based on a small town that Erin had spent a great deal of time) and an understanding the traditions, folklore, and legends of Massachusetts that helps sell the tale. Great stories need memorable characters and those characters need to live in a world that people can relate to. This is true for paranormal stories even more than others, because they live and die (and then come back from the dead!) based on how ‘real’ the world feels. There needs to be some aspect of normal human behavior to contrast against the supernatural aspects. If Alice was as bananas as everyone else was in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll would feel more like Hunter S. Thompson!

Erin Petti's The Peculiar Haunting of Thelma Bee

If you’d like to pick up a copy of The Peculiar Haunting of Thelma Bee, you can grab it at your favorite book store or order it online right here.

This week’s Sunspot song was inspired by some “psychic vampires” that we’ve had to  contend with in the past. It also won the Madison Area Music Association Video of the Year in 2008, here is a little black and white slab of dark rock n’ roll, “Sweet Relief”.

I’m just a puppet in your hands,
a slave to your demands,
too terrified to live life on my own.
Soldier for your affection,
doll in your collection,
but you’ve got a mind I’ll never know.

Sweet relief,
why can’t you stay?
Just a moment longer.
Sweet relief,
your smile I’ll save.

Tied to my purse,
the martyr’s curse,
tangled in the Cat’s Cradle of your plan.
Spend all night on a call,
debating nothing at all,
thinking I can save what no one else can.

Sweet relief,
why can’t you stay?
Just a moment longer.
Sweet relief,
your smile I’ll save.
The vampires that prey on my conscience,
will trade my goodwill for my common sense.
Sweet relief,
why can’t you stay?

And this resolve is gone,
the eggshells I’ve been walking on.
Can I carry on?
Can I carry on?
When this freedom is gone,
can I carry on?
Being your servant and your boy,
your trifle and your toy,
drained until all that’s left of me is a void.

Sweet relief,
why can’t you stay?
Just a moment longer.
Sweet relief,
your smile I’ll save.
The vampires that prey on my conscience,
will trade my goodwill for my common sense.
Sweet relief,
why can’t you stay?

 

 

113 – Beware of Bozo: The Great Phantom Clown Panic of 2016

2016. Just saying the year feels like we’re living in the future. We’re well past Back To The Future II now and we’re only 3 years away from Blade Runner territory. But he sad truth is that there’s no jetpacks, our Artificial Intelligence autocorrects our communication into incoherence, and the U.S. Presidential Election is straight out of a 90s dystopian satire.

We have more access to information than ever before in history. In fact, most people in our country carry the sum total of human knowledge in their pocket. Any fact is at our fingertips and any answer at our beck and call. So it just goes without saying that most people no longer panic about urban legends because they all get neatly debunked when we do a quick check of snopes.com… Wait. Did you say clowns are trying to lure children into the woods?! OH MY GOD. SAVE THE CHILDREN.

Tim Curry’s performance as Pennywise the Clown in the 1990 television adaptation of Stephen King’s IT has set the gold standard for scary clowns for a generation. While Killer Klowns From Outer Space might have been  a fun and campy horror movie and Blood Harvest starred Tiny Tim and Wisconsin State Lottery beauty Lori Minnetti (my and Allison from Milwaukee Ghosts‘ parents have a strange connection to both of them!), when people think of terrifying clowns in the late 20th Century, it’s Tim Curry’s Pennywise that they’re really thinking of. And they should, he’s scary as Hell and IT was shown on free over-the-air TV back when tens of millions of people still regularly watched scripted dramas instead of just dancing and singing competitions.

Look, I know there might have been a time when clowns weren’t terrifying. That time is over. There’s a real psychological term for the fear of clowns called “coulrophobia”. This year, through the magic of the Internet and in our never-quenched desire to save our children, we’re being inundated with tales of strange and sinister clowns lurking in our cities. It’s gone from a funny story that’s shared among friends on social media networks (and we covered it first in our paranormal newsletter!) to a full-blown worldwide phantom clown panic. Indeed, what started out this summer as a stunt in Green Bay, WI (for a film called Gags The Clown, our friend Cactus Joe interviews the director in this episode as well) has spread all across the country.

This latest era of clown scares starts in 2013 in Northampton in the United Kingdom. And while that clown isn’t even doing anything scary in particular, just the fact that someone is out there in the street dressed as a clown and waving to people spooked the locals. The innocuous nature of his performance is what freaked people out, in fact The Huffington Post headline was “Northampton Clown Terrorizes English Town Just By Standing Around“.

northampton clown
‘Ello, chaps! I’m the Northanmpton Clown! Bloody scary, eh?

Then in November of 2015, in Waukesha, Wisconsin (right by my hometown and the location of a new awesome ghost tour that I wrote and Wendy guides!), a local teenager  had a similar chilling effect on the populace. Once again, this clown isn’t doing anything, just hanging around and it’s disturbing people.

waukesha clown
The Weird Clown of Waukesha

Fast forward to 2016 and Gags the Green Bay Clown starts terrorizing the frozen tundra of Titletown. This summer, the story goes viral and no longer are these formerly jocular characters just occupying our nation’s street corners, they’re now in the schoolyards.

Gags The Green Bay Clown
I’m Gags The Green Bay Clown. I love cheese, the Packers, and murder!

Clown sightings in South Carolina in August had children claiming that clowns were trying to lure them into the woods with money. You mess with children and people freak out, and boy have they ever. You know how rumors spread through a junior high school population? That’s social media.

Schools have been locked down in Illinois, Tennessee, Maryland, Ohio, New York, and Florida. And it’s not even real clown sightings that are causing this, it’s just clown-based social media threats. It’s children reporting clown sightings and adults freaking out over it. Our schools have become zero-tolerance zones for clowns and it’s all because children are making up stories, Salem-style.

john wayne gacy clown
John Wayne Gacy in his favorite getup

This isn’t America’s first great clown panic though. In April of 1981, just over a year after notorious Chicagoland serial murderer and real-life killer clown John Wayne Gacy was sentenced to death for sexually assaulting and murdering thirty-three boys and young men, reports of mysterious clowns bothering children starting popping up around Boston area schools.

In May of that year, the media picked those reports of clowns up and the police of nearby Brookline, MA even issued a warning after learning of two “clown men” looking to lure children into their white van with candy. A little later that year, in Mineral Point, Wisconsin, a “phantom” was seen by dozens of teenagers, and even a police officer, John Pepper, talked about seeing “a huge person with a white-painted face”.

But here’s the thing, besides the policeman seeing the clowns in Mineral Point, none of the other clowns were ever really seen by the police. Or even a reputable adult.

In fact, cryptozoology demigod, Loren Coleman (who we’re all going to meet and party with at the 2016 Milwaukee Paranormal Conference coined the phrase, “Phantom Clown” in his book, Mysterious America. They were phantoms because there were never any arrests made for these phantom clowns actually breaking the law, or even existing outside of elementary school imaginations, perhaps inspired by images of Gacy in the evening news broadcasts that their parents watched.

But for the people who think it might be fun to dress up and join in on the phantom clown prank, well you better think again. A couple in Menasha, Wisconsin, were just arrested for child neglect for leaving their four year old at home while they went on out to scare the local populace. Indeed, this time around people aren’t taking the clown sightings lying down, in fact at Penn State University, reports of creepy clowns inspired the students to head into the streets to seek them out for a clown beatdown.

That’s the inspiration behind this week’s Sunspot song. It’s not duck season, it’s not wabbit season, it’s “Clown Season“!

Lollipop eyes,
and a painted face
hide a taste for homicide.
and It’s no surprise,
every place we look
we find a crime.

Danger in every corner,
We’ve got murder on our mind.
you might play the fool, but if you come by a school
we will eat Bozo alive.

It’s no joke,
I won’t go,
to the place
where we all float.

Turn your frown upside down
and send in the clowns,
we’re gonna burn this big top down.

You ain’t funny,
you ain’t cute,
This time
the joke’s on you,

We don’t need a reason,
for hunting season,
A Krusty krackdown,
we’re coming for the clowns.

Hey you with the nose,
that’s as far as you go,
What’s with those big shoes?
Stay away from our youth
cuz we know the truth.
It must be real, it’s on the news.

Danger in every corner,
We don’t care if it’s all in fun,
Come by a kid, you’ll be sorry you did,
The mob is out for blood.

It’s no joke,
I won’t go,
to the place
where we all float.

Turn your frown upside down
send in the clowns,
we’re gonna burn this big top down.

You ain’t funny,
you ain’t cute,
This time
the joke’s on you,

We don’t need a good reason,
now it’s hunting season,
A Krusty krackdown,
we’re coming for the clowns.

Special thanks to our good friend (and a fellow musician!) Cactus Joe for interviewing Adam Krause about Gags the Clown!

P.S. We recorded this podcast on Scott Bakula’s birthday. Hope it was a great one, Scott!

112 – Serial Killers: Amanda Howard and a Fascination With Evil

[ Credit to Djbarrett Photographer and Graphic Artist for photo of Amanda Howard in this episode’s header image ]

Remember the first time you saw The Silence of The Lambs? I do. I was fourteen years old and I went to go see the movie with my dad at the local budget theater in Milwaukee in June of 1991. I remember the day well because I’d  just picked up the latest issue of my favorite guitar magazine because I wanted to learn how to play “Bohemian Rhapsody”. But I also remember it because that movie blew my frickin’ mind. It was behind only Ghostbusters and Total Recall (and both films we discussed this summer on the podcast, funny enough) in my mind as what I thought were the greatest movies of all time.

Guitar for the Practicing Musician July 1991
Sunspot still plays “Seek and Destroy” live, originally learned from this magazine! All bass lines included? That’s why it was my favorite!
But it wasn’t just me who loved it. Silence of the Lambs nabbed the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1991 in addition to Best Acting trophies for both Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter (Best Actor for merely sixteen minutes of screen time!) and Jodie Foster. It is a tour de force of suspense and the measure to which all other serial killer movies are based.

And there were lots of movies of which to compare it to. Serial killers became the villain of the decade. Even The X-Files has Silence of the Lambs in its DNA. Fox Mulder was originally a serial killer profiler that was allowed to pursue his weird research on the X-Files because he was such an ace profiler. That’s right, in the 90s, being a serial killer profiler was a viable employment goal.

serial killers image
Here let me save you some profiling time. Single. White. Male. Usually have been picked up for a sex crime in the past.
From Scream to Kiss The Girls, Se7en to Copycat (which was Sigourney Weaver taking on the very evil Harry Connick Jr.), it seemed like serial killers were everywhere. One of the most awkward moments in watching a film in Milwaukee as a young man was hearing Wesley Snipes psycho character in Demolition Man say “Jeffrey Dahmer? I love that guy!” Audiences on the coast might have laughed, but definitely not in Brewtown.

There was even a reaction to all these serial killers as villains with the switcheroo of them becoming the protagonist instead. While some works, like Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho are meant to be completely satirical, others like Dexter have the audience rooting for a vigilante murderer like he’s Batman. Indeed, they made a special action figure out of his “Dark Defender” alter ego.

dexter dark defender
Hey kids, Merry Murderin’ Christmas!
But it wasn’t just a 90s thing, we’ve always been fascinated with serial killers, from H.H. Holmes (Chicago’s Devil In The White City) who was heavily covered in the Hearst newspapers of the 1890s to Uncle Charlie in the 1943 Alfred Hitchcock classic, Shadow of a Doubt. But it was back in the 90s, that an Australian writer by the name of Amanda Howard began compiling stories about serial killers on the web into a sort of online encyclopedia.

Amanda Howard
True crime author and this episode’s guest, Amanda Howard
Amanda’s fascination with these murderous personalities eventually led to a career as a successful true crime novelist where she goes in depth on the stories behind these psychos, from their motivations to the impact that it has on their often completely innocent families.

We were lucky that Amanda was willing to join us at 5am Sydney time for the interview to share her expert knowledge on the history of serial killers and provide an insight into the reasons that as a culture, for some reason, we just can’t get enough of serial killers. One of the most interesting cases that she shares with us is Fred and Rose West, a British couple who many in the US are unfamiliar with, and their grotesque story shocked me.

Amanda has been a pen pal of some of your favorite crazies, from Family Man Charles Manson to Night Stalker Richard Ramirez and her exhaustive research has given her a unique perspective into why these people fascinate us, and she even makes some paranormal connections as well!

More information about Amanda Howard and her books can be found at her website, amandahoward.com.au. If true crime isn’t your thing, she’s also written the Ritual series of fiction books about an investigator named Kate Reilly who probes serial killers in a city called Somerset, which if the books are any indication, is the most dangerous place in Australia!

For this week’s Sunspot song, we pulled out our track “Cannibal” from The Slingshot Effect. After all, on a week where we’re talking about serial killers and Silence of the Lambs, we just had to include our song that quotes one of Hannibal Lecter’s most famous lines.

You’re such a tease,
You always leave me wanting more,
And you could turn a guy like Gandhi into a carnivore.
Cuz you look like you’ve got great taste, you’re good enough to eat.
Maybe with a nice Chianti and some fava beans.

I’ve got a hunger that can’t be sated normally,
Here’s your invitation to my Donner Party…

I want you more than just inside of me,
And I’ll take that super-sized.
I want to be studied by Margaret Mead,
and I’ll bake you right into a pie,
This cannibal will eat you alive.

I’m into lust not into vengeance, I’m no Andronicus,
Carnality not hubris, I’m no Tantalus.
When I get turned on, I’m a barbarian,
My tastes decidedly non-vegetarian.

You always satisfy my craving that’s so big,
I get hungry for a hunk of the long pig.

I want you more than just inside of me,
And I’ll take that super-sized.
I want to be studied by Margaret Mead,
and I’ll bake you right into a pie,
This cannibal will eat you alive.

Every time I see you, I just can’t touch you enough.
Every time I’m with you, I just can’t taste you enough.
I can’t confuse, I can’t control you,
I can’t abuse you, I can’t cajole you,
I can’t surprise you and I can’t imbibe you, monopolize you, osmosicize you,
I just can’t make you enough a part of me.

I’ve got a hunger that can’t be sated normally,
Here’s your invitation to my Donner Party…

I want you more than just inside of me,
And I’ll take that super-sized.
I want to be studied by Margaret Mead,
and I’ll bake you right into a pie,
I want you more than just inside of me,
And I’ll take that super-sized.
Your sweet taste is the key to my recipe,
and I’ll bake you right into a pie,
This cannibal will eat you alive.

111 – Professional Weirdos: The Paranormal Obsession of Greg and Dana Newkirk

This week we interview the paranormal power couple Greg and Dana Newkirk, self-named professional weirdos who together write and edit one of the best places to find strange news on the Internet, Week In Weird!

Growing up in Canada, Dana Matthews discovered her obsession with ghost hunting while in high school and quickly shot to fame with her own TV  show on the SPACE Channel, The Girly Ghosthunters.

Greg had a parallel upbringing in Pennsylvania and in the age of the Internet, actually communicated with his future wife, Dana, about ghost hunting and well, the beginnings of their relationship are a little rocky… Greg and Dana tell the unbelievably true story of how they got got together in this interview along with discussing the paranormal experiences that made them believers.

 

This week’s song, inspired by Greg’s “quest of apology” to Dana, is entitled Apology Tour:

Well, I’m a recovering angry young man
Had more fury than you need for just one lifespan,
I shook my fist at the world with my undies in a bunch,
I had the kind of face that people love to punch.
I’m not too proud of where I been
And now I’ve gotta atone for my sin.

So I’m saying sorry
and forgive me.
I’m not the person that I was before.
I’m saying sorry,
I’ll get on my knees,
You’re the next stop on my apology tour

Go ahead and slam the door,
And take your best shot ,
I probably deserve more,
I deserve all you got.
I used to think I was hardcore,
Definitely not,
I was at war with the world, but I didn’t know squat.
I thought the world owed me a place,
An entitled little punk Napoleon case
I’m not too proud of where I been
So now I’ve gotta atone for my si n

So I’m saying sorry
and forgive me.
I’m not the person that I was before.
I’m saying sorry,
I’ll get on my knees,
You’re the next stop on my apology tour.

So I’m saying sorry
and forgive me.
I’m not the person that I was before.
I’m saying sorry,
I’ll get on my knees,
You’re the next stop on my apology,
curing my psychology,
don’t stomp on my apology tour.

110 – Ghost Lovers: Spirits, Music, and UFOs with Martin and Natasha Blasick

Remember the scene in Ghostbusters where Dan Aykroyd is laid out on the bed and a ghost undoes his zipper and the camera pans up to his eyes crossing? Yeah, sorry for that imagery. But it’s from a  deleted scene in the film where Ray Stantz (Aykroyd’s character, as if you didn’t know) was investigating a military fort. He tries on an old uniform and lays down in the bedroom to take a nap. While he’s resting, the spirit of the woman who used to love the man whose uniform it originally was floats into the room and proceeds to make it happen with the Ghostbuster.

Or do you remember the pottery wheel scene in Ghost? The spirit of Patrick Swayze in all his early-90s beauty sneaking up behind Demi Moore and putting his arms around her while she’s working on the wheel. There’s some paranormal love in Peter Straub’s Ghost Story tooand who can forget that magical scene in MacGruber with Will Forte and Maya Rudolph?

There’s an event name for the attraction to ghosts. It’s called spectrophilia and it’s a real thing. Hey, plenty of celebrities have said that they’ve done it with ghosts. Bobby Brown, Ke$ha, Lucy Liu… hey, Paz De La Huerta claims that the spirit of Elvis Presley came through her and “gave her pleasure”. What?! So this is a thing. And while when you Google it on the Internet, you get plenty of salacious tales, The Skeptical Inquirer has a more balanced take on it.

In May of 2014, actress and musician Natasha Blasick blew up the Internet for a couple of days by going on UK breakfast show This Morning and talking an experience that she had with a spiritual lover. That experience even turned into a song that she wrote with her husband, musician and composer, Martin Blasick, and we knew that we had to interview them for See You On The Other Side. 

Martin is a film and television composer and songwriter who has worked on plenty of films. In fact, a woman close to you has probably spent some alone time watching Matthew McConaughey sing one of Martin’s songs, “Ladies of Tampa” from Magic Mike.

Martin and Natasha also play together in the band, Snowflakes, a pop-rock act where they keep the music upbeat and fun, but still dive into paranormal topics like “Alien Girl”.

While Martin keeps an open mind, he hasn’t had any particularly paranormal experiences. Natasha however, has a couple of doozies that she gets to in the interview.

martin and natasha blasick
Martin and Natasha Blasick

Natasha grew up in Odessa in the Ukraine and describes an incident when she was 12 years old, walking home from her grandmother’s house with her father. As they crossed a vacant lot, Natasha saw a star get brighter and brighter in the sky, coming towards them. It came within a few yards of them and she describes seeing a dumbbell-shaped object only 6 feet or so across spinning in front of them. She was more fascinated than scared and her father calmly told her when it was over, “Do you really think we’re alone in the universe?” That’s some hardass Ukrainian logic right there.

Martin and Natasha talk about a gig gone awry at a alien abductee  meetup and what it’s like to be friends with a psychic (just how much would you want to know about your future if you actually could?)

martin blasick
Martin Blasick IN SPACE!

But hey, we really should delve into the experience that got Natasha all of the attention in 2014. So, what did happen?

Well, this was a few years ago when Natasha was getting into a lot of spirituality and regularly meditating, so she considered herself very open to the other side. Martin was out running some errands and she decided to have some alone time (probably watching Magic Mike).  Well, something joined in, she felt a presence, some kind of energy pressing down on her, but it wasn’t scary like an incubus experience, it was kinda nice.

natasha blasick david duchovny
Hey, here’s Natasha Blasick with Mulder himself, David Duchovny!

Okay, I know what you’re thinking, how the Devil can that be kind of nice? Well, there’s nobody actually there, it’s just a feeling. You don’t see anything terrifying, there’s no real human violation, it’s just kinda like some energy is helping out. It’s not like some ghostly prowler snuck in through the window. It’s more like a supernatural helping hand. Weird? Oh  yeah, but if it didn’t terrify her, then okay.

One of the most interesting things is that while they expected to be mercilessly made fun of (and that did happen on the  internet), there was plenty of support as well. In fact, lots of people sent messages that they’d experienced something  similar. So that’s a good thing.

Martin and Natasha were able to turn the experience into a song and a narrative. “sexwithghosts” is the title song to their project. Hey, when life gives you sexwithghosts lemons you might as well make sexwithghosts lemonade!

They’ve got a romantic comedy  coming out called The Sex Trip that Natasha acts in and Martin wrote the music for. Hey, and it’s got an appearance by Frank Stallone, so that’s the price of admission right there!

This week’s Sunspot song, “Ghost With Your Face” takes inspiration from the conversation, because it’s all about waking up next to a ghost. But when we worked on the song, the idea went somewhere besides sexual. Because if you live your life for someone else instead of going for it, you die a little anyway until one day you might wake up and see someone else when you look in the mirror.

You walk through that door at 5 every single day
You’ve done all the right things and you’re doing what they say,
but you’re defeated, cheated, dragged behind, feeling like a slave.
you might have the picket fence but you’ve got no time to play.

I seen the end my friend, I’ve seen what you get,
There’s millions of us dead, they just don’t know it yet.
The best minds of my generation wasted on the race
going mighty fast, but going to no place.

We trade the best years of our lives for a never-ending chase
And one day you’ll wake up to find all you are, is a ghost, with your face

Well we all want to run away, we all want to break out,
It’s the quiet desperation Henry Thoreau talked about,
But we got to be real, we signed the deal, and it’s not as easy as they say,
It’s gonna take a movement if we want to bust these chains.

I seen the end my friend, I’ve seen what you get,
There’s millions of us dead, they just don’t know it yet.
The best minds of my generation wasted on the race
going mighty fast, but going to no place.

We trade the best years of our lives for a never-ending chase
And one day you’ll wake up to find all you are, is a ghost, with your face

109 – Androids, Angels, and Albemuth: The Paranormal Mind of Philip K. Dick

Science fiction is the most popular form of modern entertainment.  Every summer we’re treated to an alien invasion movie or the latest comic book adventure and even the biggest show on American television glamorizes sci-fi “nerds” (even if The Big Bang Theory routinely get the details wrong for those of us paying attention.) Such was not the cultural landscape of the mid-Twentieth Century.

philip k. dick
Hi, I’m Philip K Dick and I’m looking through you…

Philip K. Dick (the K stands for Kindred, which you players of Vampire: The Masquerade or C. Thomas Howell fans should all appreciate!) has been one of Hollywood’s go-to inspirations for films for over thirty years now. Blade Runner, Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly, Screamers, Minority Report, The Adjustment Bureau, Paycheck, The Man In The High Castle, and many more. That’s right, he’s influential enough that both Matt Damon and Ben Affleck have been in films inspired by his novels!

But all kidding aside, if he were alive today, he’d be a wealthy man. But science fiction wasn’t really part of mainstream literature in the 1950s and 60s, and Dick embarked on a strange life’s journey, full of broken marriages (he was married five times), drug addiction, bouts of poverty, and a religious experience that he wrote about in a half million words in his journal. His wondrous imagination that gave his readers so much to think about, had plenty of issues on its own.

Arnold Schwarzenegger total recall
I was the Governor of the 8th largest economy in the world, aaaaarrrrrrggggggghhhhhhh

Born in Chicago in 1928, Philip K. Dick had a twin sister Jane that died only a few weeks after birth. While he was a child, his family moved to the San Francisco Bay and he was in the same graduating class as Ursula K. LeGuin (Wizard of Earthsea, yeah!), he went to the University of California at Berkeley for awhile and published his first science fiction story “Beyond Lies the Wub in 1952.

He was often desperate even while being hailed as a science-fiction genius. He wrote mainstream novels in the 1950s that all went unpublished in his lifetime except for one. His story “Impostor” was adapted for British Television in 1962 (and the screenplay was adapted by none other than Terry Nation, the creator of Doctor Who‘s Daleks) and his novel The Man In The High Castle even won the Hugo for Best Novel in 1963, but that still couldn’t keep him afloat.

He had drug issues, even in 1971, turning his home into a drug den after a messy divorce. He was into amphetamines and sedatives and different kinds of pills, even once trying to kill himself in 1972 with a sedative overdose after a new lover left him. He chronicles a lot of this fictionally in the book, A Scanner Darkly.

Dick’s writing dealt with alternate realities, paranoia, strange memories, and what it means to be human.  “In my writing I even question the universe; I wonder out loud if it is real, and I wonder out loud if all of us are real.” He said, “my preoccupation with these pluroform pseudo-worlds” is “now I think I understand; what I was sensing was the manifold of partially actualized realities lying tangent to what evidently is the most actualized one, the one which the majority of us, by consensus gentium, agree on.”

Hey now, what does any of that mean? Take the red pill, Neo. Dick was saying that we’re living in the reality that most of us agree on and that his works have been a peek into the possibilities of other realities. Alright, now we’re talking sci-fi, everybody!

In 1974, Dick was recovering from a dental procedure when he ordered some pain medication and the nurse brought it over. She showed up and was wearing one of those Jesus Fish symbols around her neck and a beam came from her pendant and hit him in the head, causing him to have visions of being a persecuted Christian in Roman times. He thinks something entered his mind that day.

jesus fish
I’m blasting out Holy Spirit lasers!

In letters, the author told his friends that some kind of entity was keeping “violent phosphene activity”. Phosphene is Greek for seeing light without using the “eye” because he was seeing things in his mind.

“It did not seem bound by either time or space … within my head it communicated with me in the form of a computer-like or Al-system-like voice, quite different from any human voice, neither male nor female, and a very beautiful sound it was, the most beautiful sound I ever heard.”

He added that he thought it was “an ionized, atmospheric, electrical life form able to travel through time and space at will … through camouflage (it) prevents us from seeing it. And he described the aftermath of his initial experience: “during the days following … the imposition – that is the right word – the imposition of another human personality unto mine produced startling modifications in my behavior.” He came to the conclusion that he experienced “not added perceptual faculties but restored perceptual faculties … we are imprisoned by blunted faculties: the very blunting itself makes us unaware that we are deformed.”

He later described the experience to interviewer Charles Platt as “an invasion of my mind by a transcendentally rational mind. It was almost as if I had been insane all of my life and suddenly I had become sane.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXqHJYz8NXo

The experience profoundly affected him and it made up the core of his book VALIS. The title is an acronym for Vast Active Living Intelligence System.

“On Thursdays and Saturdays I’d think it was God,” he told Platt. “On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, I’d think it was extraterrestrials. Some times I’d think it was the Soviet Union Academy of Sciences trying out their psychotronic microwave telepathic transmissions.”

Philip K Dick VALIS
You should see his religious experience influenced his fiction…

“I was a spectator,” said Dick. This mind, which Dick characterized as female, fired his agent, tracked down editors who were late sending checks and modified his diet.

When he had the Roman experience, interestingly enough it wasn’t just that he was in Ancient Rome and existed among the persecuted Christians, but he described it as a “Dreamtime”, an Age of Heroes where great deeds took place.

And while listening to “Strawberry Fields” by The Beatles, it also revealed to him that his young son had an undiagnosed birth defect that was potentially fatal. And the revelation proved to be true and a doctor was able to save his child’s life!

He talks of the spirit as thinking in non-verbal thoughts, “It thought pure concepts without words. But it knew with ratiocination. It transferred to my mind concepts that in seven years of trying to articulate them in words, I’ve only now been able to reduce them.”

And going back to the symbol that started it all, had an extended visitation where he bought a fish sign with Greek letters on it (just like the Christian symbol we see on the backs of cars, in fact Christians used to use this as a secret kind of symbolism so that they could know each other…)

philip k dick robert crumb
Robert Crumb illustrates this so beautifully it’s a must-read

And this extended visitation involved a Greco-Roman spirit that would get confused by Modern life and wouldn’t quite understand what was going on. Dick said that he could pick up the other’s thoughts while he was waking up and falling asleep and the Greco-Roman person felt that there was someone inside his head as well. Dick couldn’t drive because the spirit couldn’t understand the pedals of a car.

He thought it might be the Prophet Elijah, because it originally happened during Passover. Elijah is a character in the Old Testament Book of Kings who challenged the King of Israel when the King’s wife, Jezebel, spurned her husband on to abandon the worship of Yahweh and start worshipping Baal, an ancient God of Thunder and rain.

Elijah sets up a match between the power of Yahweh and the power of Baal to see whose deity is greater. Of course, the Hebrew God windmill and Elijah is later lifted up to Heaven in a chariot pulled by flaming horses. Pretty sweet.

In Jewish ceremonies, they’ll often leave a chair out for Elijah, particularly at the Passover Seder and circumcision ceremonies (there’s a great Saturday Night Live skit with Jerry Seinfeld showing up as Elijah in person at a Passover Seder about this).

Christians sometimes think of John The Baptist as a reincarnation of Elijah The Prophet and this is who Dick thought he was possessed by the spirit of, because his spirit was more concerned with being persecuted by the Romans as a secret Christian and that’s what happened to John The Baptist when he was beheaded.
John The Baptist Getting Beheaded
John The Baptist And The No Good Very Bad Day

When Elijah had left him, Dick had thoughts of suicide, even though he was still visited by the A.I. Voice every once in awhile. He would sit late at night and write down his thoughts in a journal which ended up at over a half a million words and selections were published in 2011 as The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick. He even thought that he could figure out the Second Coming of Jesus in some of his last journal entries. In addition to his journal, his stories VALIS, Radio Free Albemuth, The Divine Invasion, The Transmigration of Timothy Archer, his final novel, the uncompleted The Owl in Daylight all deal with this strange paranormal experience.

In this episode we also interview Dan Abella from the Philip K. Dick Science Fiction Film Festival! Dan is a filmmaker who founded the festival to honor the influence the author had on modern science fiction and also to highlight new filmmakers coming up.  You can find some of the trailers to the awesome films playing at the festival right here.

There’s a European branch of the festival and they’re celebrating October 14th in Cologne, Germany as well as the 22nd in Lille France. For the statesiders, they’ve announced the dates for the 2017 festival as well, check out this snazzy trailer and check out if you’re in NYC or a sci-fi filmmaker yourself!

At the end of the episode we bring on friend of the show and paranormal author, Tea Krulos, to discuss this year’s Milwaukee Paranormal Conference. Coming up October 15th and 16th in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, it’s going to be a doozy and we’re happy to be a big part of it!

milwaukee paranormal conference
We’ll be the ones interviewing Kartina from Paranormal Lockdown, oh yeah!
For this week’s song, we decided to take some inspiration from the most famous of film soundtracks of a Philip K. Dick, Blade Runner, which was composed by the awesome synth-meister, TangelosWe even snuck in some dialogue from Blade Runner, Minority Report, and A Scanner Darkly (we’re saving Total Recall for its own superset jam one of these days!) Here’s us shamelessly aping the beautiful soundtrack work of Vangelis with “The Tannhauser Gate”.
 

108 – Wow!: Radio Telescopes, Dyson Spheres, And The Search For Aliens

We’ve discussed SETI (the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) before when we talked about that Russian billionaire that gave a hundred million dollars to the quest to find aliens, but this past week had a huge announcement for those of us who keep our eyes on the skies.

We’re talking about the signal that was reported by a Russian radio telescope in May of 2015 but for some reason has only entered the public sphere starting last week and was especially exciting because it was all over the mainstream news sources. Usually when this kind of news happens, it gets relegated to UFO or conspiracy blogs. It’s easily weekly that I have to trudge through various reports that a UFO was seen on the live feed from the International Space Station and NASA quickly turned off the cameras.

So when it gets announced to the regular world that an amazing signal was detected from space, it’s big news for us and we wanted to talk about it. I hate to disappoint everyone but it’s already being disavowed. CNN is already saying that scientists are saying it’s probably of terrestrial origin, some kind of disturbance or weird reflection off an old Soviet satellite, just Cold War spy technology coming back to spoil our fun.

But how do we know that this isn’t just the cover-up? Once the world governments realized what was going on, they decided to shut it down before the truth got out?! Well, that certainly is a possibility and we know that the government loves to keep things from us but even though I’d love for this to be some kind of cover-up of an actual alien transmission, it’s probably not. And for a couple of reasons:

  • August is a slow news month. Donald Trump’s act isn’t as entertaining to journalists as it was a year ago and Hillary is playing it as safe as possible so she doesn’t blow her current lead in the polls. Most people are on vacation and news organizations don’t know what to write about. Aliens get clicks, every time.
  • This happened in May of 2015 and we’re just hearing about it now. If it was the smoking gun that we’re all waiting for, well, in this day and age, stories don’t take a year and a half to get told.
Im Not Saying It Was Aliens...
I’m Not Saying It Was Aliens…

Back in college, when we all ran SETI@Home on our computers instead of a normal screen saver (You still can, just check it out right here!) most of the signals that we were processing came from the radio telescope at Arecibo in Puerto Rico. The largest telescope actually has just finished construction in China and is scheduled to be operational this month(!)

Mike at Arecibo
Mike at Arecibo

So a quick primer on radio telescopes in case you’re wondering. It is a radio antenna like the one on your car, but while the one on your car can maybe pick up a signal from 80 miles away if it’s in AM mode, the radio telescope is big enough to pick up radio waves in space. And scientists can take those radio waves and use them to find out things about the objects that the telescope is pointed at.

Radio telescopes can collect data from further distances than visual telescopes. So, when the signal was announced last week that seemed to come from somewhere near the constellation Hercules, one of the exciting aspects of that was it seemed to be purposeful and for the signal we received to make it here from that distance would require the energy of a Kardeshev Type 2 civilization.

Huh? Okay, Kardeshev was a Soviet astronomer who developed a scale for the technological advancement of civilizations based on the amount of power that they could harness.

  • Type 1 was the ability to harness all of the energy of your own planet (we’re not there yet but here’s what it would be like if we were).
  • Type 2 is the ability to harness the power of a star. This is the Dyson Sphere that people talk about. A Dyson Sphere is an enormous structure built around a star that can use all of the energy that that star creates (like in the Star Trek: TNG episode with Scotty, “Relics” or the Hyperion book series by Dan Simmons.)
  • Type 3 means that you can manipulate the power of a galaxy. Everyone’s favorite Coast To Coast AM astrophysicist, Michio Kaku, thinks that we might be there in ONE MILLION years.

And oh man, that Next Gen episode was so sad, wasn’t it? RIP James Doohan, we still love ya!

But here’s something cool, in the past couple of years, we’ve had two strange readings from stars where their brightness has changed inexplicably. We expect up to one percent of the brightness to dip when a planet passes in front of them, but these dips are more like twenty-two to forty-five percent. So that means that something gigantic is getting between us and the star, something like a Dyson Sphere!

Of course, scientists always have an alternate explanation, but thinking that it’s extraterrestrials building a megastructure designed to harness the power of an alien sun is a lot more fun, and I’m sticking with that for today.

Wow!
Wow!

But on August 15th, 1977 there was a signal detected at the Big Ear Radio Telescope at Ohio State that was dozens of times stronger than the background noise of space. Lasting just seventy-two seconds, astronomer Dr. Jerry Ehman circled it on the printout and wrote down “Wow!” by it (hence the nickname of the signal.)

Why was it such a big deal? First, the signal was heard near a “protected frequency” that other earthbound transmitters aren’t allowed to broadcast on so it probably wasn’t a terrestrial source. Second, the signal rose and fell during the 72 seconds, meaning that it got more intense as the Earth’s rotation brought the radio telescope’s “beam” closer to the signal and less intense as it rotated out. That means it’s probably not some kind of interference which would have acted differently.

It’s the closest thing to an extraterrestrial radio source that we’ve ever seen, but it only lasted that minute and twelve seconds. Several attempts have been made to detect another signal coming at that intensity from that area of the cosmos and we haven’t heard anything yet.

Now, Professor Antonio Paris (c’mon, that’s an awesome name!) at St. Petersburg College in Florida (Note about this part of the podcast – I totally mixed up St. Petersburg and St. Augustine while we were discussing this) has come up with a plausible theory is that the intense signal might have been coming from some comets that as of 1977 were undiscovered. He’s hoping to test it in the next couple of years when the comets make another trip nearby Earth.

 

Stephen Colbert actually made a response to the Wow! Signal on his Comedy Central show a few years back…

So, we haven’t found that undeniable evidence that’s going to convince the straights that E.T. is out there, but that doesn’t mean radio telescopes haven’t been inspiration for our sci-fi over the past few decades. Great places to see radio telescopes in science fiction:

  • The Arrival – this is one of Charlie Sheen’s best roles and an under appreciated 1990s alien invasion flick. It had the bad luck of coming out the same year as Independence Day and let’s face it, as fun as Charlie Sheen can be, the late 90s was the Willennium.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GOc01_Ty1eQ
  • Goldeneye – you saw it in the theater or you played it on your Nintendo 64 but you remember the big finish takes place at the Arecibo Radio Telescope in Puerto Rico where Pierce Brosnan chases Sean Bean around.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MH2qnn4D0kY
  • The X-Files – “Little Green Men”. Mulder goes down to Puerto Rico in his quest for the truth and it’s the first appearance of aliens on the show.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYEpvHDbT4Y
  • The Dish – The Parkes Observatory in the middle of the Australian Outback has to help out with the Apollo moon landing in 1969.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tc4MSie-P0k
  • Doctor Who – Tom Baker saves the universe from entropy but loses a regeneration in the process by falling from a radio telescope designed to contact alien intelligences.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xYOM70sbyA
  • The Arrival – Not Charlie Sheen this time, but Amy Adams. And it hasn’t come out yet, but the preview screenings have got me all excited about it. It’s supposed to be not so much of an alien invasion, but a What If? we actually met aliens who didn’t want to eat us, but wanted to make contact. This is the film that might be preparing us for full disclosure (keep your fingers crossed!)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hQkrCtfUP0

At the end of the episode, we also introduce our friend, Tobias Wayland, from The Singular Fortean Society. He is a Madison-based blogger and paranormal researcher, working with artist and fellow researcher Emily Bartos. They recently attended the Art of Darkness event in Minneapolis and he wrote up the event at their website.

This week’s Sunspot song is a simple track about calling out into night sky and only having one word to say when it answers you back. Wow!

Just how long can you stare?
At the emptiness inside a prayer,
An ear peeled to every band,
to hear a loneliness that just expands.

All the space between us is so black,
Patience just a virtue that I lack,
Until the void finally calls back,
I’ll scream into the night alone.

Wow, I heard you.
How, where’d you go?
Now, I’ll follow,
so please phone home.

Now the long wait can begin,
(I heard you),
when will you show yourself again
(where’d you go?)
It’s funny how just one time,
(I’ll follow),
Can forever alter  your life,
(please phone home).

All the space between us is so black
Patience just a virtue that I lack
Until the void finally calls back
I’ll scream into the night alone

Wow, I heard you.
How, where’d you go?
Now, I’ll follow,
so please phone home.
Wow.

 

107 – Stone Tape Theory: Timothy Yohe and The Paranormal Properties of Limestone

In addition to being a fun way to learn new stuff about the weird world, paranormal conventions also give you the opportunity to meet like-minded individuals. In fact, that might be the best part. If you’re surrounded by people at your job or in your family who don’t share your particular obsession with the more wonderful aspects of the world, well then they can get tired of talking about the supernatural pretty fast. Or sometimes you get shut down if someone is a little too religious (I just had someone post on the wall of the Madison haunted history tour that by telling ghost stories we were really summoning the Devil… yikes!)

So, it’s always great to bring people on the show that we meet when we’re out in the wild. We met Timothy Yohe at the Haunted America Ghost Conference in Alton, IL. Hailing from St. Louis, Tim is a paranormal researcher whois as interested in the scientific aspect as he is the spiritual. He runs two blogs, Paranormal Insights (with a more spiritual bent) and Paranormal Entanglement (with a more scientific bent).

tim yohe divining rod
Doing a little divining with Tim Yohe

We were intrigued by Tim’s theories on how limestone of all rock, seems to be the likely candidate of the kind of stone that would be able to “record” as in the stone tape theory.

What’s the stone tape theory? According to Wikipedia it’s the speculation that ghosts and hauntings are analogous to tape recordings, and that electrical mental impressions released during emotional or traumatic events can somehow be “stored” in moist rocks and other items and “replayed” under certain conditions. 

In 1972, this theory was exposed to a huge population when the BBC put on a ghost story called The Stone Tape that was written by Nigel Kneale, the writer of the seminal sci-fi saga Quatermass (I wrote a little obituary for him on the Sunspot blog when he died in 2006.) Funny enough, the stone tape theory was first articulated by an archaeologist-turned-parapsychologist named Thomas Charles Lethbridge, who also believed that extraterrestrials had a had in shaping human evolution, a subject that Nigel Kneale mined to great effect in his classic Five Million Years To Earth.

Here’s the stone tape theory part of the episode of Arthur C. Clarke’s World of Strange Powers that we mention in the podcast. There’s also a ghost story from Wisconsin, which I was delighted by seeing my home state in a UK TV show as a little lad.

One of Yohe’s ideas is that since limestone is made up of former organic matter, it might contain some residual living energy that spirits might be able to tap into. Because it’s calcified bodies of sea life, he refers to it as paranormal plankton. He even admits it’s a stretch, but at least he’s trying to find some kind of mechanism for it using the real world. That’s definitely something to admire.

Tim gives us his theories in depth during the interview and if you’d like to check out his book, click here to take a look at Limestone and Its Paranormal Properties: A Comprehensive Approach to the Possibilities which is available in Paperback or Kindle e-reader format.

dowsing for ghosts tim yohe
Tim’s wife pointing a dowsing rod directly at a gravestone where an orb appears in the photo

Tim’s wife often comes with him on his paranormal investigations and haunted tours. One year when they were in Alton and on a tour through the haunted cemetery, she was using a dowsing rod (the oldest ghost detecting device according to paranormal historian Troy Taylor) and felt herself being led through the cemetery towards one of the stones in particular.

I’m not an “orbs and mists” photos fan, but Tim presents this evidence as the mists and orbs that weren’t there when they originally were looking but showed up at the grave that his wife was being led to. While I’m the world’s biggest orbs skeptic, I have to admit it would be pretty neat to take a picture where your wife was telling you she felt spiritual energy happen and a mist appears in the photo out of nowhere.

ghost in the graveyard tim yohe
A strange mist when no one was smoking
more ghosts in the graveyard tim yohe
More of the strange mist

And Tim’s wife is part of the inspiration for his next book, which will focus on pregnancy and the paranormal. When Tim and his wife were on a ghost tour and she was pregnant, she was the focus of a a good deal of supernatural happenings while in a haunted house. A few days later they tragically learned that the baby had died in the womb and it began to make them wonder just why she had experienced so much activity. Tim’s wife and he explain it in their own words in a blogpost and it brings up some interesting questions that he’s going to pursue in his next work.

This week’s new Sunspot song is inspired by our conversation with Timothy Yohe, the stone tape theory, and the idea that somehow rocks can record psychic energy.

“Captured In Limestone” by Sunspot

Just what happened here
Some kind of psychic scar
That causes you to appear
Come back from where you are

Trapped in a record
Etched in an earthen cleft
That’s why you’ve never left
Trapped in a record

Stories yet unknown
captured in limestone

It’s in the walls
in the roads
in the rocks
that surround me,
Someone is here,
Or was before.
I must have stepped into a dream

Here’s where you left your mark
And some residual trace
Whatever you endured
Has preserved your face

Trapped in a record
Etched in an earthen cleft
That’s why you’ve never left
Trapped in a record

History unknown
captured in limestone

It’s in the walls
in the roads
in the rocks
that surround me,
Someone is here,
Or was before.
I must have stepped into a dream

106 – Detroit Ghost City: Exploring The Haunted Whitney

Love it or hate it, SyFy’s Ghost Hunters is really the show that jump started excitement about the paranormal in the 21st Century. Their influence on the general public’s view of ghost hunting is tremendous (which makes the lack of attention to paranormal reality shows in the Ghostbusters remake even more disappointing.) Season eleven, episode three is called “Phantom For the First Course” and it’s an investigation of the haunted Whitney Restaurant in Detroit, Michigan.

And that’s when we got excited, because good friend of the show, Lisa Van Buskirk from Madison Ghost Walks, has been there investigating and knows the ghost hunting team that has made the haunted Whitney their paranormal home, Haunt Investigators of Michigan. That’s when we decided to get their take on the Ghost Hunters episode so we could discover the real story behind the haunted Whitney Mansion which is now a restaurant and bar.

Built in 1890 as a mansion for the family of Midwest lumber baron, David Whitney (who also has a Detroit skyscraper named after him), it took four years to finish the palatial estate and it was notably the first private residence in the United States to feature an elevator. Whitney died very early into the Twentieth Century, but his family continued to live there for several years. They eventually sold the property and it became a hospice for several decades before being retired for awhile and reopening as a restaurant in the 1980s. More recently restored, it was considered creepy enough to be the location used in the 2012 vampire film, Only Lovers Left Alive with Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton.

Marc Ortiz and Mark Waynick from The Haunt Investigators of Michigan both grew up near the Motor City and were inspired to investigate the paranormal after personally experiencing things in their youth that they couldn’t explain. This lifelong interest eventually led to them forming the paranormal group which has investigated different sites all over the country. Their main haunt (ha!) however is Detroit’s Whitney Mansion where they are the in-house paranormal investigation team (now composed of eight members.)

 

The Marks from Haunt Investigators of Michigan
The Marks from Haunt Investigators of Michigan

In the podcast, we talk to “The Marks” to get their perspective on the episode and how the SyFy Ghost Hunters jibed with their own experiences in the haunted Whitney. (Spoiler Alert: They feel like the show was a pretty good representation of the place) and then share some of their best evidence with us of not only the haunted Whitney but another location in Detroit, a flower shop with a mysterious occult altar in the basement, just check out the YouTube links below.

The Haunt Investigators of Michigan host a paranormal dinner monthly at the Whitney as well as schedule public investigations every once in awhile. For more information on these guys and the awesome work that they’re doing, make sure to Like their Facebook page and join them next time you hit Detroit Ghost City!

Carriage House EVP

The Haunted Whitney Revisited

Whitney Paranormal Dinner

Floral Creations Investigation

Detroit is a great city which Sunspot has a lot of affection for, because they’ve always treated us well when we’ve performed there, but sometimes the rest of the Midwest likes to treat it as a punching bag because the city has had some rough times. This week’s song is about how it’s easy to use other’s misfortune to make yourself feel better, the Germans even have a word for it, it’s called “Schadenfreude”.

There’s just a little part of me that’s happy I’m not you.
You know the Germans have a word for it, of course they do.
It’s the speeding ticket for the other guy,
It’s the coffee spilled on your dumb boss’ tie,
Reality television when some dumb chick cries.
Uh oh boo hoo.

Why do I like when $&”@ happens to you?
Why do I get a little wood when you get screwed?
Just a bit of bad luck that puts me in a good mood.
Oh yes it do, because I like when shit happens to you.

It’s nothing personal you see,
it’s just the relief when I thank God that it’s not me.
I know I come off like a mean-spirited twit,
but I bet one time you were thinking it.
It’s on Facebook where you complain about your friends,
It’s the morning where your hair is all split ends,
it’s the fact that you have to wear Depends.
When you just wanna quit, I kinda love it.

Why do I like when $&@! happens to you?
Why do I get a little wood when you get screwed?
Just a bit of bad luck that puts me in a good mood.
Oh yes it do, because I like when $&@! happens to you.

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

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