All posts by Mike Huberty

Co-Host of See You On The Other Side podcast Lead Vocalist & Bassist for Sunspot

226 – Strange Frequencies: Technology and the Supernatural with Peter Bebergal

At the beginning of the Millennium, I used to visit the website tarot.com almost every single day. It was a good-looking page that had some really cool tarot cards and it was free to do a little reading everyday. You could pay for a full “Celtic Cross” elaborate kind of thing, or you could just get a little three card session for free. You would ask it a specific question and get three cards back, one to tell you about yourself, one to tell you about your situation, and one to tell you about your challenges.

But there was always something that I felt was off in trying to use a computer to divine something about your life. There’s no human element, there’s no psychic or medium to help you interpret the cards, while it felt interesting and fun, it never felt magical. Tarot on a computer screen never felt sacred. It’s zeroes and ones, I never felt what Peter Bebergal in his new book Strange Frequencies: The Extraordinary Story of the Technological Quest for the Supernatural, calls “enchantment”. That feeling you are participating in something outside your natural human experience, like religious ecstasy or the of meditation, or when you’re talking with a medium and they tell you things that are impossible to know.

The last time we had Peter Bebergal on, we talked about his great book, Season of the Witch: How The Occult Saved Rock ‘n’ Roll, and this book is just as fascinating. He argues that using technology to uncover the paranormal has been with us since we started trying to explain the universe. Something as simple as rubbing a lucky rabbit’s foot is magical technology. It doesn’t have to be an Ovilus plucking words out of the ether. And really, is looking for signs of the future in animal entrails any different than a computer program designed to spit out random predictions? The same forces that would use the viscera to relay a message could just as easily use the zeroes and ones, couldn’t they?

Author Peter Bebergal

Fast forward fifteen years and I use my Apple Watch to meditate every day. I’ve listened to MP3s of hypnosis sessions where I try to recollect past lives. I use my phone alarm to wake me an hour before I’d normally awaken sometimes so that I can explore lucid dreaming. I’ve gone from someone who scoffed the first time a psychic told me that she would do phone and Skype sessions (all I could think of was Miss Cleo) to being shocked and amazed at some of the things I’ve been told during those very same sessions.

When you watch Ghost Hunters or Ghost Adventures, the technology is as big a part of the show as the history of the haunted location. They set up digital voice recorders to catch EVPs, thermal imaging cameras to look for variations in the temperature (cold spots!), Electromagnetic Field Detectors to reveal temporary energy fluctuations. We don’t have the technology to capture a spirit like in Ghostbusters, but we can try to “capture” phenomena on tape when they happen. Technology and the supernatural are more intertwined than ever, but as Peter argues in his book, that’s nothing new. Some of the things we touch on:

In the episode, Wendy and I talk about how much fun we had at Krampusnacht in Milwaukee on the day before St. Nick’s. We have a whole episode dedicated to everyone’s favorite Christmas demon! Here’s a link to some amazing photos of Milwaukee Krampusnacht 2018 as well!

The song this week is inspired by the title of Peter’s book Strange Frequencies and the Spirit Box. Even our most famous inventors, Edison and Tesla, both thought that they could eventually design a radio to communicate across the veil (or even between planets) and we took that idea and ran with it. Here is Sunspot with “The Strangest Frequency”.

If I could talk to those I lost again
to try and make amends
among the graves

Some kinda wiretap
from far beyond the map
somehow these words get trapped
between the waves

Screaming in the darkness
broadcasting our callsign
hoping to break though reality
a mechanical catharsis
tuned in from the other side
I heard you on the strangest frequency

Finding patterns in the static
is automatic
with all these toys

sufficiently
advanced technology
is just necromancy
with some white noise

Screaming in the darkness
broadcasting our callsign
hoping to break though reality
a mechanical catharsis
tuned in from the other side
I heard you on the strangest frequency
I heard you on the strangest frequency
I heard you on the strangest frequency

225 – Evil: From Serial Killers to Slenderman

This weekend we did our first live podcast from a convention! Allison from Milwaukee Ghosts, Scott from WhatsYourGhostStory.com, Wendy, and I did a panel on EVIL at Wizard World Madison and it was a fantastic experience. Here’s how they described the panel in the literature:

From urban legends to comic books to true crime, evil permeates our pop culture. Hear about real cases of evil and how they influenced movies and TV with Madison haunted historian Mike Huberty, Milwaukee paranormal researcher Allison Jornlin, Waukesha Ghost tour guide Wendy Lynn Staats, and Chicago ghost story author, Scott Markus. From Ed Gein and Psycho to John Wayne Gacy and evil clowns, the Slenderman to famous demonic possessions, the crew behind Wisconsin paranormal and pop culture podcast, See You On The Other Side, discuss the real life evils hiding under the fiction.

Here are your evil panelists! Mike, Allison, Scott, and Wendy

So, we each took a topic that had a Wisconsin connection (since we were in Madison) of evil in real life that had paranormal implications and also had a ton of pop culture connections.

It was a great crowd and a lot of fun and if we met you at the convention, then thanks for coming to visit us at See You On The Other Side for the first time!

Wendy giving us the “skinny” on Slenderman

Evil often hides in the form of good intentions. For the song this week, we go back to this worn-out, but still valuable quote:

He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.

Nietzche, Beyond Good and Evil

The mantra of revolution is often that once a few “necessary evils” are taken care of, they can stop and that the ends will justify the means. Whether it’s the French Revolution or the Bolsheviks, history hasn’t borne that out.  Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Here is Sunspot with “Evil On Evil”.

You want the power
but they won’t go without a fight
you said you’re gonna drain the swamp
this time you’ll do it right

you said you want justice
no one said it’d be bloodless
it’s time, the heads will roll
ain’t that how it always goes

Fire with fire, you gotta be lethal
it’s just evil on evil
Drag em through the eye of a needle
now you’re evil on evil

Tie up the noose
payback’s a bitch
fail the purity test
we’ll burn the witch.

you said you want justice
no one said it’d be bloodless
it’s time, the heads will roll
ain’t that how it always goes

Fire with fire, you gotta be lethal
it’s just evil on evil
Drag em through the eye of a needle
now you’re evil on evil

224 – Dreams of the Future: Precognition, Retrocausality, and Free Will

Have you ever dreamt something and it happened in real life? I have. I was eleven years old and it was the summer of 1988. I was in the middle of a nightmare when all of a sudden it was winter and I was getting off the school bus and kids across the street started throwing snowballs at my friend and I. My friend ran into his house and grabbed a red plastic circular sled to use as a shield against the snowballs. Thirty seconds later, I was back in the nightmare. When I woke up I thought it was weird, but it was just a dream about a snowball fight. Maybe I’d seen a movie about wintertime or someone mentioned it on the radio earlier in the day and it planted a seed in my head. I didn’t think I was having an experience of precognition.

Was the Christmas Story on earlier that day?

Six months later, it was the first snowfall in Winter and I was coming home with my friend after school and everything unfolded exactly as I had seen. He even grabbed the red circular sled and used it as a shield, but I had never seen the sled before, in real life at least. At least I didn’t remember seeing it. I thought it was weird, but I still believed that it was all just a coincidence. Snowball fights are common enough, circular plastic sleds are popular (we had the same model in blue in my house), I didn’t think it was unexplainable. 

What was unexplainable was the feeling that I was watching something from the future. Like I had seen it all before, more than just deja vu. I was re-experiencing something that already happened. My experience isn’t unusual, it’s common for even non-believers in psychic powers to experience some kind of premonition in dreams. They’re dreams after all, it’s easy to chalk it up to coincidence and it’s the most kind of empirical event of all. A dream only happens to you. 

No even though my particular experience was fairly mundane (just a snowball fight), it does beg a lot of questions. If I was watching a pre-recording of the future, what could that that mean? And those implications are what we discuss in this episode.

Now, there’s been a lot of research lately on the idea of retrocausality, which is where cause and effect happen backwards. So information from the future determines what happens in the present and it’s been displayed in experiments looking at the behavior of subatomic particles, so it’s not like we’re getting messages from the future. But subatomic means that we’re in the land of quantum physics, which is what Einstein famously called “spooky action at a distance”. Of course, quantum physics is a field that is regularly abused by lovers of the paranormal as possible explanations for everything from telekinesis to ghosts, because some of the behavior of subatomic particles seems unexplainable with the reigning theories of physics. If time is set and is happening all at once, we’re just perceiving it the way we do as we travel through it, then maybe it’s possible for super tiny particles to relay information to the past.

But if everything that’s going to happen has already happened, is there anything we can do to change the future? What does that mean for free will? Do we really have any choices in our lives or are we predestined to live out the path that our genes, chemicals, and neural programming has laid out for us?

So, yeah, this episode goes deep into the nature of reality, man… we talk about:

Then we share our personal precognitive dreams as well as the dreams of two of our Patreons, Ghost Host Lisa from Madison Ghost Walks and C.E. Martin, an author who just came out with a great book called Stranger Than Fiction: A Skeptic’s Journey, and he allowed us to read you a chapter directly from his own personal experience. If you’d like to check out the book for yourself (it’s on Kindle Unlimited!), then click right here.

For the song this week, we were inspired by a study that came out in 2017 that showed even if we could see the future, almost 90% of us wouldn’t want to know. While we have an overwhelming desire to control our destinies, which is why we see fortune tellers and psychics, we’re just looking for confirmation that we’re gonna win. We’re looking for messages to help us from the Other Side, but not necessarily tell us that we can’t change anything. Mystery is baked into the human condition. If someone spoiled Game Of Thrones for me, I would straight up punch them in the face, what do you think it would be like if they spoiled my own story? I know that people can be cool with predestination, but as for now, I’m all T2 “NO FATE”. Here’s our track, “Remember The  Future”.

Don’t you cry for Cassandra,
don’t you cry for her tragedy
If you could remember the future
you might not like what you see

Look away boy look away boy
what’s to be is always to be
look away boy look away boy
before it can drive you crazy

Don’t you cry for a crystal ball
to try and turn time’s arrow
If you could remember the future
you might not like what it shows

Look away boy look away boy
enjoy your free will while you can
look away boy look away boy
or it will just drive you mad.

223 – Robin Hood: Legends and Ghosts of a Mythical Hero

With a brand new Robin Hood movie coming out this week (which was originally called Robin Hood: Origins, I guess to make it sound like a X-Men movie or something), it’s time to talk about the famous bandit who fought against the tyranny of Prince John in Sherwood Forest and stole from the rich and gave to the poor. 

Me with the Robin Hood statue by Nottingham Castle, rocking BluBlockers at least a year before Zack Galifianikas brought them back in The Hangover

But that’s my version of Robin Hood and there are many. In the new movie, Jamie Foxx plays Robin’s Moorish commander and friend, taking place of Little John. But there wasn’t even a Saracen character (who were the Muslums defending the Holy Land in the Crusades) in the story until the 1980s when he was introduced in the Robin of Sherwood TV series (which also featured an awesome Pagan deer-god, Herne the Hunter.) Now, the fact that Robin Hood has a noble Muslim warrior buddy like Morgan Freeman is baked into the story.  

Sweet looking trees in Sherwood Forest

And Morgan Freeman is part of my generation’s record of the story. My Dad’s was Errol Flynn (and to make Kevin Costner feel better, his English accent wasn’t much better, he sounded more Australian than anything else.) But every generation gets a Robin Hood that is suited to the times, the story has changed and adapted with only a couple of constants: the government is corrupt (something that hasn’t changed from the Twelfth Century until today) and Robin Hood likes to hide out in the forest, but it might not even be Sherwood Forest!

Author K.C. Murdarasi has just released a book Why Everything You Know About Robin Hood Is Wrong that details even though the tales  take real figures like Richard The Lion-Hearted or King John and real places like Yorkshire and Nottingham. why our version of the story has no real basis in any kind of historical fact. We talk with her and discover:

  • When Robin Hood became a nobleman
  • When he started stealing from the rich
  • Who he could have been historically
  • Where Maid Marian came from (She’s French, what?!)
Click here to purchase Karen Murdarasi’s book!
The Great Oak of Sherwood Forest, voted England’s favorite tree and the supposed hideout of Robin and his Merry Men

There’s also a paranormal element to Robin Hood’s legends and we cover these topics as well:

That’s a big tree, baby

For the song this week, we thought we’d take a Robin Hood ballad from the Seventeenth Century when songs were presented in large one-sheet broadsides, which are proto-newspapers that were developed after the printing press was invented. They would have news and ballads and were sold for a penny a piece. Often the songs would tell the tales of highwaymen and robbers who were about to be executed, but they also featured great heroes and legends like Robin Hood.

These broadsides were all collected by an American historian in the 1800s, Francis Child. He wanted to save the folk ballads of England and Scotland. Today, we’re singing an abridged version of one of the ballads, “Robin Hood And The Butcher”, where Robin pretends to be a butcher to lure the Sheriff of Nottingham into Sherwood Forest so then he can rob him. He even makes a “say hi to your wife” joke at the end!

You can take a look at the original broadside right here!

Come, all you brave gallants, and listen a while,
With he down, down, an a down
That are in the bowers within;
For of Robin Hood, that archer good,
A song I intend for to sing.
Upon a time it chancëd so
Bold Robin in forrest did spy
A jolly butcher, with a bonny fine mare,
With his flesh to the market did hye.
‘Good morrow, good fellow,’ said jolly Robin,
‘What food hast? tell unto me;
And thy trade to me tell, and where thou dost dwell,
For I like well thy company.’
The butcher he answered jolly Robin:
No matter where I dwell;
For a butcher I am, and to Notingham
I am going, my flesh to sell.
Now Robin he is to Notingham gone,
His butcher’s trade for to begin;
With good intent, to the sheriff he went,
And there he took up his inn.
When other butchers they opened their meat,
Bold Robin he then begun;
But how for to sell he knew not well,
For a butcher he was but young.
When other butchers no meat could sell,
Robin got both gold and fee;
For he sold more meat for one peny
Than others could do for three.
The butchers they stepped to jolly Robin,
Acquainted with him for to be;
‘Come, brother,’ one said, ‘we be all of one trade,
Come, will you go dine with me?’
But when to the sheriff’s house they came,
To dinner they hied apace,
And Robin he the man must be
Before them all to say grace.  
‘This is a mad blade,’ the butchers then said;
Saies the sheriff, He is some prodigal,
That some land has sold, for silver and gold,
And now he doth mean to spend all.
‘Hast thou any horn-beasts,’ the sheriff repli’d,
‘Good fellow, to sell unto me?’
‘Yes, that I have, good Master Sheriff,
I have hundreds two or three.
‘And a hundred aker of good free land,
If you please it to see;
And I ‘le make you as good assurance of it
As ever my father made me.’
The sheriff he saddled a good palfrey,
With three hundred pound in gold,
And away he went with bold Robin Hood,
His horned beasts to behold.
Away then the sheriff and Robin did ride,
To the forrest of merry Sherwood;
Then Robin he set his horn to his mouth,
And blew but blasts three;
Then quickly anon there came Little John,
And all his company.
‘What is your will?’ then said Little John,
‘Good master come tell it to me;’
‘I have brought hither the sheriff of Notingham,
This day to dine with thee.’
Then Robin took his mantle from his back,
‘I hope he will honestly pay;
I know he has gold, if it be but well told,
Will serve us to drink a whole day.’
Then Robin took his mantle from his back,
And laid it upon the ground,
And out of the sheriffe[‘s] portmantle
He told three hundred pound.
Then Robin he brought him thorow the wood,
And set him on his dapple gray:
‘O have me commended to your wife at home;’
So Robin went laughing away.

222 – Mental Health and the Supernatural: From Schizophrenia to Indigo Children

The shadow of mental illness hangs over supernatural experience. If someone at your office job told you that they really believe that they’d been abducted by aliens, would you look at them the same? I mean, you’re reading the show notes for a paranormal podcast, so maybe you would like them even more. But there is a stigma associated with mental illness in our society and a stigma associated with believing in the supernatural. When you combine them, it’s becomes doubly dubious. 

And I admit, that I’m pretty skeptical. Like most Americans (52%), I believe   in the possibility of ghosts and like 57% of my countrymen and women, I’m also down with psychic powers but if you told me that you had a real deal supernatural encounter, like talking to a demon or you hear spirits in your head, I’m a doubting Thomas.

We have to be somewhat skeptical because while mental health treatment is still a very inexact science and we’re obviously overmedicating many of our most vulnerable patients, when you read stories of schools being closed because of evil spirits or hundreds of child abuse cases a year being attributed to demonic possession, the whole thing feels medieval. Like treating these problems as a spiritual instead of mental health matter might be causing more harm than good.

But are there any actual cases where there might be some kind of supernatural phenomena beyond the mental health issue? 

And that’s the trouble with stigmas, they make things so touchy that people are afraid to tell the truth. No one wants to be associated with mental illness because they don’t want to sound “crazy”, even though almost every single person will fight some kind of psychological disorder at some point in their life. Most people want to steer clear of the supernatural, even though 80% of Americans profess to believe in some kind of God. People need to be able to discuss their experience without everyone judging them. 

Sometimes art can help remove stigmas and sometimes they can make them worse. Sybil famously brought the world of dissociative personality disorder (multiple personality) to the public but Psycho was inspired by the real-life story of Ed Gein, a murderer diagnosed with schizophrenia. Getting our opinions on mental health from movies is dangerous because it paints an unrealistic and sometimes unsympathetic picture of illness. C’mon, in exorcism films, are the possessed ever really just sick? No, then there wouldn’t be a movie, at least not the kind that sells tickets to horror fans. 

In this episode, we discuss the relationships between mental illness and the paranormal. Here’s some of the topics we cover:

Our band Sunspot wrote the song for this week in the late 90s, when Prozac was at its prescriptive height and it seemed that more and more children were being given the drug. My psych professors at the University of Wisconsin would tell me about the lunches that the pharmaceutical companies like Eli Lilly would put on for psychiatric clinics, they were lobbyists for their drugs. They would actively try to get doctors to prescribe them.

I remember when one of my teenage friends told me she was on Prozac and it shocked me, not that I thought she was crazy, but that she was so young and already on medication. I was shocked that kids weren’t being allowed to “pass through a phase”, they were getting pills right away. Maybe I was reacting to the stigma of mental illness I felt with people in my own family who were on medication, but it felt like maybe we should give kids a chance to be moody. Maybe we shouldn’t be interfering with brain chemistry that’s still so plastic, still developing, still trying to find its way.

And now it’s more than ever, 80 million Americans take a psychiatric drug and over 7 million them are under 18. Maybe we wrote this song too early? 

Is she a victim of her own physiology
Or just a victim of some bad psychology
All I do know is she’s fifteen and she’s on Prozac

She sits in her room and cries all night
Never had a real boyfriend in her life
Her mommy wonders why she doesn’t have any friends
Daddy only sees her when he has her on the weekends

Is she a victim of her own physiology
Or just a victim of some bad psychology
All I do know is she’s fifteen and she’s on Prozac

And the doctor said, “you better take your meds
To fix what’s wrong inside your mind.”
Just a Prozac Girl in a Prozac world
Shift the blame and everything will be just fine

Her grandma thinks that it might be bad luck
I think we used to call it “just growing up”
When you feel that your life is just pathetic
You slap it in a textbook, and blame it on genetics

Is she a victim of her own physiology
Or just a victim of some bad psychology
All I do know is she’s fifteen and she’s on Prozac

And the doctor said, “you better take your meds
To fix what’s wrong inside your mind.”
Just a Prozac Girl in a Prozac world
Shift the blame and everything will be just fine

She doesn’t cry anymore
She doesn’t laugh anymore
She doesn’t know how she should feel anymore
A chemical imbalance
That’s covered by insurance
It’s hard to be a little girl
When you’re numb to the world

Is she a victim of her own physiology
Or just a victim of some bad psychology
All I do know is she’s fifteen and she’s on Prozac

And the doctor said, “you better take your meds
To fix what’s wrong inside your mind.”
Just a Prozac Girl in a Prozac world
Shift the blame and everything will be just fine

221 – The Imaginal Realm: Active Dreaming and Synchronicities with Robert Moss

If you’re anything like me, you have a love/hate relationship with the dream world. Sure, it can be fun to dream and some whacked out cool things can happen, but nightmares can randomly develop and turn something unusual and strange into something terrifying and soul-crushing in the blink of an eye. I’ve felt ecstasy inside a dream, but I’ve also had bouts of uncontrollable crying and overwhelming pangs of guilt.

And I’m doing it to myself, right? Because dreams, they’re not even real. It’s just a “bit of undigested beef or a blot of mustard“! Well, author and dream teacher Robert Moss doesn’t think so. He calls the dream world “The Imaginal Realm” and believes that we can change our lives by what we see in dreams. He believes that it is a pathway to parallel universes of lives unlived here but fulfilled there. Moss believes dreams are a way to spend time with spiritual beings who live in a different dimension, to talk to the dead, and to receive messages from our higher selves.

Robert Moss has been featured on shows from Charlie Rose to Coast to Coast AM and he joins us to talk about how he uses symbolism (and lots of Jungian psychology) from dreams to help people work through their struggles in waking life.  

  • How Robert Moss lived a lifetime in a few minutes during a dream he had in a childhood Near-Death Experience
  • The dream message that changed his life and led him on a path away from best-selling Cold War thriller novels and onto dream teaching and shamanism
  • An almost-miraculous synchronicity with a dominatrix that occurred on an airline flight 
  • How he helps people deal with and take control of their nightmares
  • How to use dreams to speak to the Dead
  • The importance of keeping a Dream Journal
  • The principles of his Active Dreaming method and how you can start engaging your dreams tonight

Robert Moss’ new book is called Mysterious Realities: Tales from the Imaginal Realm and you can purchase it at his website, www.mossdreams.com

The song this week is a psychedelic dream voyage. “The Land of Nod” is the Biblical place located “east of Eden” where Cain was exiled after he killed his brother Abel. (In fact, in the game Vampire: The Masquerade, Cain is the first vampire and the sacred text of bloodsuckers is called The Book of Nod.) But it’s also a euphemism for dreamland, (you “nod” off to sleep) that was used as early as Jonathan Swift and Robert Louis Stevenson and is still used by authors like Neil Gaiman. And of course we had to shout out some Shakespeare, Poe, and Coleridge (who wrote the world’s most famous unfinished poem inspired by a dream!)  Here is Sunspot’s “The Land of Nod”.

We are such stuff it seems
inside in a dream within a dream
a Kubla Khan in Xanadu

A physical transcending
to a world that’s never ending
where the soul does continue

can a lifetime be lived
with what a moment has to give,
Well, the clock is broken anyway

And it is your own creative hand
that flips this to a savage land
where you are nothing more than prey.

Who sent you
You sent you

You’re running
but you can’t move
and You’re trying
your legs are glued
you’re struggling
but you can’t stand
then you’re falling
but you don’t land
and you’re screaming
but there’s no sound
and you’re crying
but your tears drown
inside
before you die
you need to open your eyes
you need to open

We are such stuff it seems
inside in a dream within a dream
a Kubla Khan in Xanadu

A physical transcending
to a world that’s never ending
where the soul does continue

can a lifetime be lived
with what a moment has to give,
Well, the clock is broken anyway

And it is your own creative hand
that flips this to a savage land
where you are nothing more than prey.

Who sent you
You sent you

220 – True Crime Halloween: Scarier Than Superstition

When we think about Halloween, we think of witches and ghosts and demons. Superstitions and mythical creatures. Wicked? Sure. Scary? You bet. Real? Well, the jury is out. We talk about the veil between the worlds being at its most thin on the holiday, we talk about Samhain, horror movies, and jack o’ lanterns. We make evil into a joke, something cute for kids. We dress up little girls as witches, little boys as vampires. The terrors of our Dark Ages become fantasy fodder for our Enlightened era. We’ve talked about all kinds of supernatural brutes on this show and every kind of superstition. But sometimes the most horrible monsters aren’t monsters at all. They’re just people, sick and weak and selfish and angry people. 

  • Halloween night 1974, Ronald Clark O’Bryan laced candy Pixy Stix with cyanide in order to kill his children and collect their life insurance policies. He pretended to go to a neighbor’s house who wasn’t home and “trick or treat”-ed the candy, giving it to his own children and their friends. His son Timothy was poisoned to death and O’Bryan was caught and eventually executed. He was nicknamed “The Candy Man” or “The Man That Killed Halloween”.

  • On Halloween 1975, 15 year old Martha Moxley’s body was found bludgeoned to death and stabbed with a golf club. The affluent and troubled Skakel brothers were implicated in the murder and one of the brothers was eventually tried and convicted of her murder 25 years later. The case was international news because their aunt was married to Robert F. Kennedy.

  • October 28th, 2014, 35 year old Derek Ward decapitated his mother, Patricia Ward, and carried her body out into a Long Island street. There were several witnesses that watched him carrying the headless corpse but they had no idea it was real, they thought they were looking at a Halloween decoration. Derek Ward then proceeded to walk three blocks and killed himself by jumping in front of a train.

  • Halloween 1981, Ronald Sisman and Elizabeth Platzman are found murdered in their New York City apartment. The apartment is ransacked and they are killed execution style. Police suspect a drug transaction gone bad until a prison inmate came to them with an unusual claim. That inmate was imprisoned with David Berkowitz, the infamous “Son of Sam” killer, who was arrested in 1977. The inmate claimed that Berkowitz told him earlier that he was part of a cult that was planning on killing a photographer in an apartment in Greenwich Village on Halloween in a Satanic ritual. The police couldn’t get enough evidence and the case remains unsolved.

  • On Halloween night 2002, Christopher Jenkins was kicked out of a Minneapolis bar into the freezing weather while still in his costume. His body was found in the Mississippi River four months later. Four years later, the Minneapolis police changed the status of his death from an accidental drowning to homicide, but no one has ever been charged in the crime. Two New York detectives have their own theory about a “Smiley Face Murder Club” that travels along the Mississippi, killing young men and covering up their crimes by dumping the bodies in the river.

When we use names to describe these real-life terrors we turn people into monsters: “Smiley Face Killers”, “Son of Sam”, “The Candyman”. Nicknames are catchy, they sell newspapers and get clicks, but it also de-humanizes the people behind the names. It turns them into a witch or a vampire or a ghost. Because how could someone, a regular person like us, do something as horrible as this?

The song this week is based on a  true crime that happened in St. Louis in October of 1899. Francis “Frankie” Baker was a young woman who was keeping company with ragtime piano player named Allen Britt. Allen he stepped out on her with a prostitute named Alice Nelson, Frankie heard about it and got so enraged that she shot him. Allen died 4 days later and was able to tell the police who did it.

At Frankie’s trial, she claimed that it was self-defense, that Allen pulled a knife on her and that he beat her in the past. That was good enough for the jury, who acquitted her. But within months, someone had already written a song about it and soon afterwards, the names were changed a little bit to accommodate easier rhymes. The song “Frankie and Johnny” was born and was covered by everyone from Johnny Cash to Merle Haggard to Elvis. Francis Baker died poor in 1952, and was bitter that she never received any money from the song that she inspired. However, she did kill a guy. This episode’s song is our own acoustic guitar and violin version of the true crime murder ballad, “Frankie and Johnny”.

Frankie and Johnny was lovers, oh, how they could love
They sworn to be true to each other, true as the skies above
He was he man, he wouldn’t do her no wrong.

Frankie went down to the corner, to get her a stein of beer
She asked the big old fat bartender, “Have my lovin’ Johnny been here?
He is my man, he wouldn’t do her no wrong. “

Said, “I ain’t gonna tell you no story, I ain’t gonna tell you no lie
He was here ’bout an hour ago with that gal they call Nellie Bly,
He was your man, but he’s been doin’ you wrong.”

Frankie went down to the hotel, she didn’t go down there for fun
Under her long red kimono she carried her .44 gun
Lookin’ for the man that was doin’ her wrong.

Johnny pulled off his Stetson hat, hollered, “Now, baby, don’t shoot!”
Frankie pressed her finger on the trigger and that gun went “rrrroooolietoo”
She killed her man, ’cause he was doin’ her wrong

This is the end of my story, this is the end of my song
Frankie’s down in the county jail, poor thing, down there all alone
She killed her man, ’cause he was doin’ her wrong.
She killed her man, ’cause he was doin’ her wrong.
She killed her man, ’cause he’d been doin’ her wrong.

219 – Buried Alive: 30 Hours In The Coffin Challenge

On October 21st and 22nd, Allison Jornlin from Milwaukee Ghosts  participated in the Coffin Challenge at Six Flags Great America outside of Chicago, Illinois. What was the challenge?

  • Lay in a coffin for 30 hours straight
  • Only one 6-minute break per hour for the bathroom
  • Only be able to use their cell phones for 13 minutes per hour
  • Playing music and scaring the people at all hours of the night
  • Only six 15-minute food breaks throughout the 30 hours

Allison texted me about it a couple of weeks ago and she was incredibly excited to be part of it. 3000 people (including me!) submitted to be chosen for the coffin challenge and spend those 30 hours in the Northern Illinois cold in a casket. Six people were chosen and my sister made the cut.

It began at 1pm on Saturday October 20th and she couldn’t have started off any more stoked to be there…

Right around 2am in the morning is when things started getting unpleasant as the torture commenced. You see, to make it hard on them, the ghouls from the haunted houses at Fright Fest decided to keep them up…

And that’s where Allison started losing it. Sleep deprivation is a classic way of torturing people and making them want to give up, and we’ve seen it in fiction from Lost to A Clockwork Orange. This night she was tormented by the Six Flags workers as well as a little nightmare ear worm (as many beleaguered parents can attest to, including myself) called “Baby Shark”. That was put on blast for the coffin challengers from 3 to 4am.

So, did she make it? You bet she did. And in this episode, we talk with Allison about her experience and how she soldiered through the Six Flags Coffin Challenge of being buried alive for thirty hours. Also, we get some cool ghost stories from the Gurnee, Illinois area with Scott Markus from WhatsYourGhostStory.com (he used to work Fright Fest at Six Flags Great America himself back in the day!)

And that’s not all! We learn a little about:

  • Taphophobia – the fear of being buried alive
  • Famous people that were terrified of being buried alive themselves
  • Real cases of people being buried alive as late as 2015
  • Where the phrases “saved by the bell” and “dead ringer” come from

The Sunspot song this week uses the metaphor of being buried alive to talk about the ways that we can create our own “Cask of Amontillado” through lies and self-deception. When you lie, you have to pile on more and more in order to avoid being caught, and after awhile it just feels like you’re “Buried Alive”!

When your heart is sick from beating,
cuz this double life you’re leading
ain’t no fun.
You need to find your bearing
‘fore you’re staring down
the barrel of a gun.

Cuz every lie just builds on every lie
You’ve got a crypt but you ain’t gonna die
only as good as your latest alibi.
The more you struggle, the more you’re tied
left in a hole where you’ll never see the sky.

You’re buried alive

When your mind is tired of roiling
‘cuz the rope just keeps on coilinga
’round your throat.
You better find some kind of spin
or you’re gonna swim
the dead man’s float.

Cuz every lie builds on every lie
You’ve got a crypt but you ain’t gonna die
only as good as your latest alibi.
The more you struggle, the more you’re tied
left in a hole where you’ll never see the sky.

You’re buried alive.

 

218 – Ghosts of the Shooting Star – Stories from Minnesota ParaCon 2018

And I would drive 500 miles and I would drive 500 more…

So, we hopped in the Sunspot van and Wendy, Scott from WhatsYourGhostStory.com, and I drove a thousand miles this weekend to the Shooting Star Casino in Mahnomen, Minnesota for their 2018 Paracon. It was a fun-filled three days where we made dozens of new friends, talked about hundreds of paranormal experiences, and even got to play some Blackjack (Wendy has a system, in case you were wondering!)

Mike, Wendy, and Scott manning the booth!

Now, we’ve had vendor tables at several different paranormal conventions before and it is hard to stand out. You’re competing with celebrities (we had two lovely actresses right next to us and Chip frickin’ Coffey right across the way), paranormal presentations, a bar open all day, and gambling. How are we going to get people’s attention with our little podcast? Well, we decided to create a paranormal quest where people could enter to win a sweet prize package of ghost tour tickets, Sunspot CDs, books on Chicago ghost stories, and a haunted Gingerbread house.

Chuck Woolery, eat your heart out!

So, how were we going to get everyone to come on by and get weird with us? Well, we tried to do a little “paranormal quest” game where we had three sections:

The eyeball test tubes we used to conduct our “favorite paranormal topic” poll

Once people answered our questions, then we entered them into the drawing! So, what did we discover about the Paracon attendees?

  • “Purple Rain” is their favorite Prince song by a huge margin
  • There’s not as many Vikings fans as you’d think, most of them couldn’t even name a player
  • Ghosts are the most popular topic, followed by demons, then UFOs (I know, right? Unexpected.). Cryptids came in last, which broke Bigfoot’s heart.
  • More than three-quarters of the people we met had a personal ghostly encounter and a majority of them were about their family and loved ones. That was really nice. They were mainly positive and comforting experiences. 
Daniel, the winner of the paranormal prize pack! He shared several of his paranormal experiences with us as well…
Here’s a compilation of ghost stories you guys told at our booth!

So, since ghosts were the topic that most people were interested in, we decided to interview a few of the presenters  about some of their most memorable ghostly encounters. In this episode, we have personal ghost stories from:

Darkness Radio‘s Dave Schrader interviewing Jael De Pardo and Erin Ryder from Destination Truth
Mike talking with cryptozoology author, Nick Redfern
Scott and Mike talking to actress, Erin Marie Hogan

For the song this week, we used the name of the place, the Shooting Star Casino, as the initial inspiration. Time flies like a shooting star and as John Lennon said on Double Fantasy:

Before you cross the street take my hand.
Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.

John Lennon, “Beautiful Boy”

When we’re young and we think about the future, there’s a sense of wonder. I saw a lot of that this weekend. There were psychics making predictions and mediums who say they can talk to the dead. We dream about what might happen and wish for something better. Some nights seem like they’ll last forever, but they don’t, before we know it the future is here, whether we’re ready or not and the important part is to try and not lose that sense of wonder that makes the whole thing worthwhile. That’s the idea behind this quick rock track, “Best-Laid Plans”.

Staring at the sky til dawn
laid out in front of your piece of crap car
this getaway could not go wrong
so we made a wish on every single star

And all those summer nights
that weren’t meant to last
like a shooting star
they just burn so fast
Yeah, we ran away
but the best-laid plans
are fantasies
So if you make that wish, I will believe.

And then we tried to tell the future
We looked at our palms and studied all the lines
When every kiss was an adventure
and we laughed at all the hearts we’d leave behind

And all those summer nights
that weren’t meant to last
like a shooting star
they just burn so fast
Yeah, we ran away
but the best-laid plans
are fantasies
So if you make that wish, I will believe.

217 – 1871 Firestorm: Ghosts, Comets, and the Virgin Mary

On October 8th, 1871 the deadliest fire disaster in American history struck Peshtigo, Wisconsin, a small town up north past Green Bay and almost to Upper Michigan. Estimates of casualties ran from over a thousand people to up to twenty-five hundred lost lives. People talk about the firestorm that blew through the town, a “tornado of flames” as they jumped into the river to escape the blaze. Not much of a respite as many then developed hypothermia from the cold water. It was a nightmarish hellscape as fire clouds filled the sky and the heat was so massive that it created its own wind, spreading the inferno further and further. Too many bodies were burned beyond recognition and of the corpses they could find, many couldn’t be identified because the only other people that could identify them were the other bodies. It was an incredible tragedy that was overshadowed in the news by another famous tragedy that happened that night, The Great Chicago Fire.

Mel Kishner’s painting of the people hiding in the river from the flames at Peshtigo

That’s right, two famous fires occurred on the same night. And it wasn’t just those, several towns in Michigan experienced incredible fires that night as well. The entire town of Holland (where I spent a very formative summer before Seventh Grade) burned down as did Port Huron. So, what happened that night that so many fires occurred at once?

Well, no cause of the fires has been confirmed for sure, but scientists believe that it was because it was such a dry summer in the Upper Midwest (there was only a quarter of the amount of the average amount of rainfall and Chicago itself only got one inch between the 4th of July and the night of the blaze) the towns were ripe for it. Fires had already been burning near Peshtigo as they were clearing land (the literal slash n’ burn technique) for farming and development that summer, so much so that a lighthouse near Green Bay was on twenty four hours a day that summer. In Chicago, they famously blamed Mrs. O’Leary because the fire started near her farm, and the legend was that she was milking a cow when he kicked over a lantern and started the barn on fire.

Mrs. O’Leary’s cow kicking over the lantern

As early as 1883, Igantius Donnelly, a Minnesota politician proposed in his book, Ragnarok: The Age of Fire And Gravel, suggested that it was a meteor storm as Earth was passing through the remnants of Comet Biela. A comet discovered in 1826 that was supposed to be appear in 1872 and didn’t, leading him to speculate that we passed through the meteor shower of the comet’s debris and those meteors started the fire. Although, since the year before Ignatius also wrote a book on Atlantis that basically formed the modern narrative popularized by Edgar Cayce, his theory is still a little bit controversial to say the least. 

But that’s merely one of the weird stories that came out of the 1871 firestorm. From the shadow figures people see on the streets of Peshtigo to the only apparition of the Virgin Mary officially recognized by the Catholic Church. This tragedy might be the most paranormal natural disaster we’ve ever seen.

Scott Markus from WhatsYourGhostStory.com and author of Voices From The Chicago Grave joins Wendy and I for this episode as we tell ghost stories of the great fires of 1871. Here’s some of the highlights:

For the song this week, we thought it would be cool to learn one of the most popular songs of 1871. Not only because it’s a fun challenge, but also because we want to play this song and some other contemporary music when we do our own investigation of the sites of the Great 1871 Firestorm. We’d love to stir up an EVP or some ghostly activity by playing a song that the spirits know. So, we decided on a William Shakespeare Hays song that sold over a million copies of sheet music in 1871. That’s like going platinum way before platinum existed! Here is the Sunspot version of “Mollie Darling”.

Won’t you tell me Mollie darling, that you love none else but me
For I love you Mollie darling,  you are all the world to me
Oh tell me darling that you love me, put your little hand in mine       
Take my heart sweet Mollie darling, say that you will give me thine.

Molly fairest sweetest dearest, look up darling tell me this
Do you love me Mollie darling? Let your answer be a kiss.

Stars are smiling Mollie darling, through the mystic veil of nightF 
They seem laughing Mollie darling, while fair Luna hides her light   
Oh no one listens but the flowers, while they hang their heads in shame
They are modest Mollie darling, when they hear me call your name     

Mollie fairest, sweetest, dearest, look up darling tell me this
Do you love me Mollie darling? Let your answer be a kiss.