All posts by Mike Huberty

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

166 – Based On A True Story: Supernatural Suspense with L. Sydney Fisher

After being fascinated with writing and having paranormal experiences at an early age, supernatural suspense author L. Sydney Fisher decided to use people’s real stories of hauntings, possessions, and demonic activity as fodder for her fiction. Her Bradford Haunting series is inspired by a real murder in the 1970s and the strange events that followed in Tupelo, Mississippi, which some of them,  she witnessed herself.

 

l. sydney fisher
L. Sydney Fisher
Her paranormal investigations have led her to write the Haunted History series as well, focusing on more legendary sites around Northeastern Mississippi, so we discuss how she does her paranormal research and the process of how she turns people’s experiences into exciting fiction. Her latest book is The Devil’s Board.

l. sydney fisher

One of the things I like about Sydney’s work is that it’s inspired by true events as opposed to claiming its a documentation (ala The Amityville Horror). Fiction and narratives are meant to be exciting, and horror and suspense are meant to thrill you viscerally. Sometimes you have to go a little extreme with the story to make that happen, and real-life events aren’t usually that extreme.

When you’re researching paranormal claims, it’s really easy to want to exaggerate and make things more dramatic to excite your audience, or in many authors’ cases, to sell your book. When it’s fiction, it gives you that freedom to exaggerate what actually happened to heighten the drama and it gives readers like me (who are generally skeptical of big paranormal claims) permission to turn our BS detectors off and just enjoy the story. The fact that it started with real events, helps make it exciting without straining credulity, and I really appreciate that.

To check out Sydney’s work, please click here to visit her website at LSydneyFisher.com

l. sydney fisher
Hey, baby! It’s TCB time! 

Since L. Sydney Fisher is out in “Elvis Country” and our
conversation about The King of Rock n’ Roll dominated the beginning of the conversation, we thought it’d be a perfect time to sing about the real conspiracy theory that Elvis faked his own death.  Here’s Sunspot with “The King’s Not Dead”!

Well the King’s not dead baby
You know the King ain’t dead.
He faked his OD on the potty
Flew to Brazil instead

I saw Elvis Presley
At the Burger King in Kalamazoo
He just wanted some peace and quiet
And a Double Whopper too.

Well the King’s not dead baby
Hell no the king ain’t dead
He was on borrowed time from organized crime
after Nixon made him a fed.

I saw Elvis Presley
He was an extra in Home Alone.
He’s wearing a sweet turtleneck
Under the beard he had grown

Well the King’s not dead baby
Oh no the King’s not gone
Misspelled his middle name above his grave
So that we’d know it’s a big con

I saw Elvis Presley
Outside a store in Nashville
He was looking for his microphone
Cuz he’s got some time to kill.

I saw Elvis Presley
riding on a unicorn
Doing karate kicks with Bigfoot
And saying it’s alright mama, you don’t have to mourn.

165 – Apocalypse When? More Adventures with Tea Krulos

Freelance writer and adventurer Tea Krulos is back this week with Wendy, Allison, and I to give us an update to what he’s been up to over the past year. In the past, Tea has written about Monster Hunters and Real-Life Super Heroes and now we catch up with him as he researches his next book, The End.

Hanging with Tea Krulos at the Riverwest Public House

The End is all about what you think. That’s right, we’re talking the end of the world, from doomsday preppers to climate scientists. Tea’s been having some wild adventures this Summer as he catches us up with his trips to ZombieCon, which is the worldwide meetup of the Zombie Squad, who are not exactly what you think they might be… while they use the symbolism of being ready for a zombie outbreak, they know it’s ridiculous. Sorry Charlie, George Romero-style Walking Dead zombies just ain’t real and aren’t really possible.

But there’s all kinds of emergencies, from hurricanes to floods to a terrorist strike, that could lead to a similar situation as a zombie apocalypse. The power goes out, cell phone service is down, it’s dangerous to be out at night… you don’t need a horde of the undead for that to happen. The Zombie Squad teaches disaster preparedness by using a zombie nightmare as the example, it’s a fun way to handle a serious topic.

Tea Krulos in front of the Luxury Doomsday Condos!

We get the real skinny on Tea’s trip to the Doomsday Luxury Condos in Kansas and hear all about what happens in that giant 14-story abandoned missile silo that might eventually serve as something like Fiddler’s Green from Land Of The Dead, a place where people can enjoy luxury comforts even if the world is burning around them. It sounds amazing and Tea got to take the grand tour.

Tea Krulos at the Wasteland Weekend

Finally, we hear about his trip to Wasteland Weekend which bills itself as the World’s Largest Post-Apocalyptic Festival. And it sounds like a real blast (a Master Blaster!) to hang out with people living their Mad Max fantasies and partying like they’re in the video for “California Love”.

Finally, we get a preview of the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference 2017, which is shaping up to be an amazing weekend full of awesome events, including a performance by Wendy and I at the Jabberwocky’s Ball on Saturday night, haunted history tours in Waukesha and Milwaukee, and recent guest David Parr doing a seance magic show at the haunted Brumder Mansion on midnight Friday the 13th!

Two things not to miss on Sunday’s event…

Our beloved Allison Jornlin is doing a new presentation on Milwaukee Forteana. This time she’s rediscovering the work of some of the area’s greatest paranormal researchers and she’ll be bringing that to life 10am on Sunday.

The Haunted Road Trip panel hosted by yours truly at 1pm, that’s going to be discussing awesome places that you can goto in Wisconsin to do some legend tripping for a day (or night)trip! That’s 1pm on Sunday and it’s in the bar, so we can knock one back.

Tobias from The Singular Fortean Society will be going after the Chicago Mothman at 3pm. There’s tons of new information out there about the sightings and our very own Allison has been hunting that sneaky bastard down all over the Windy City. If you want a quick refresher, just take a listen here!

Click here for more information and we’ll see you a at the convention!

One of the commonalities about all these people preparing for the end of the world, is that they’re expecting something to happen. Apocalypticism has been with us for a long time. The expectation that some huge defining moment is going to happen in our lifetime, from Charles Manson anticipating a black versus white race war to Coast To Coast AM-fueled Y2K fever, it’s a desire that some great thing will happen in our lifetimes where we can prove ourselves, where we can test our mettle. It’s the ultimate rite of passage, can you survive the end of your species?

This Sunspot song is about that feeling, where you’re waiting for a moment to change your life, like when you hear about your grandfather and World War 2 or the Great Depression. It’s wanting to be a part of history that can change the world and therefore it changes your life. Well, sometimes you just gotta do it for yourself, like in this song off our second album, “Don’t Tell Me I Missed The War”.

All my heroes are on MTV,
they’re on a movie screen,
and they like to eat Wheaties.
And I don’t trust the President,
and hate the government,
and I’ve been waiting all my life,
for one defining moment.

Tell me what to do with,
all this aggression I feel,
because self-repression just leads,
to more depression.
And I don’t want to be another,
wheel in human traffic,
I want to prove myself,
but I am just a demographic.

So tell me what to believe,
and I will follow.
Just tell me what to think,
I know you’re always right.
Disillusionment is payback,
for never having to put up a fight.

Don’t tell me I missed the war,
don’t tell me that it’s all over now.
Don’t tell me I missed the war.
And I don’t know how,
I got so jaded.
And I don’t know why,
independence is so overrated.
Don’t tell me I missed the war.

All my heroes have been,
programmed for me,
so they could guarantee
my complacency.
And I still don’t trust the government,
even though it pays my rent.
And I’m still waiting for that,
one defining moment.

So tell me what to believe,
and I will follow.
Just tell me what to think,
I know you’re always right.
Disillusionment is payback,
for never having to put up a fight.

Don’t tell me I missed the war,
don’t tell me that it’s all over now.
Don’t tell me I missed the war.
And I don’t know how,
I got so jaded.
And I don’t know why,
independence is so overrated.
Don’t tell me I missed the war.

164 – The World’s Largest Ghost Hunt: Live From The Old Baraboo Inn

September 30th, 2017 was National Ghost Hunting Day (for real!) and we got to be a part of it with a massive investigation that was happening at the same time all over the world. We took our part of the World’s Larges Ghost Hunt at the Old Baraboo Inn in Baraboo, Wisconsin. We visited there before in episode 89 of the podcast where we did a live performance and interview.

The OBI, as they like to call it, stands across the street from where the Baraboo train station used to be, and serving as the local watering hole and brothel (well, no brothel anymore) across from the point where most people entered the town in its late Nineteenth Century heyday (when Baraboo was the winter headquarters of the Ringling Brothers Circus.) Built over 150 years ago, there are many people who’ve reported haunted experiences there, from a cowboy hanging out by the jukebox, to the spirits of the ladies of the night inhabiting apartments upstairs.

So, we returned to the OBI to be part of a ghost hunt that was a worldwide endeavor, with 90 different haunted venues participating in countries from the United Kingdom to India to Tasmania. The idea was to harness the energy of thousands of people all over the world and hopefully that would help get some spirits out.

Scotty Rorek, the medium at the Metaphysical Command Center

Also exciting was that the OBI was going to host one of the founding members of the event, Scotty Rorek from Z-Talk Radio and Psychics Unite. Scotty’s presence turned the venue into the Metaphysical Command Center of all of the events and he helped direct mediums from around the world to concentrate their energies at the same time.

Everyone getting ready for the big event…

We all started out the night with a meditation that was all about protecting ourselves “psychically”. Usually, I kinda make fun of that part because I just don’t believe that anything can follow me home or hurt me. When was the last time someone was killed by a ghost? Was it The Bell Witch? That was forever ago, c’mon. But I wanted to throw all of my doubts aside for the night. I even changed from my show/rocker outfit to the red t-shirst everyone was wearing because I really wanted to be on the same wavelength. I went all in on the protection meditation and everything throughout the night because I didn’t want my natural skepticism to get in the way.

They even told us to turn our phones off, so I took mine back out to the Sunspot van and turned it off. And then we proceeded to investigate the three different rooms of the Old Baraboo Inn.

interviewing Old Baraboo Inn owner, B.C. Farr

After the event, Wendy and I played a few songs and then interviewed some of the World’s Largest Ghost Hunt participants to see if they experienced anything.

interviewing Baraboo native Cora Parchem about anything she experienced that night…

So, what did we experience? 

Well, the weirdest thing that happened to me was during the second hour of the event. Shelly Wells, who’s the sister of the owner, B.C. Farr asked if I would help do some Facebook Live stuff for the event, which I was happy to do because they’re always really nice to us. My phone was in the van, so I needed to use a different device. The technology guy for the night, Justin Richards, handed me a tablet upstairs and I logged on to Facebook.

Now when I started the Facebook Live feed, but it was really dark in the room and I had a hard time getting much of any details in the video. And after five minutes, the video stopped working completely. The tablet just reset. Here’s the full Facebook Live video, I don’t hear anything too unusual in it so far, but I’d love to see if I got any EVPs after further investigation!

The thing was, that the tablet had plenty of battery when I first started using it. And when I tried to restart it, I just kept getting some kind of battery error and it wouldn’t go past the startup screen. So, what was that about? During the investigation upstairs we had moved from trying to capture EVPs to using this thing called a SB-7 Spirit Box which sweeps the FM radio spectrum and will stop every once in awhile on some sounds, the idea is that the spirits can manipulate the frequencies or even use snippets of the radio to send a message.

Everyone was asking questions and my question was “What do you do all day?” which I thought was a fair question of a spirit. To which the Spirit box seemed to say “F$%#” and “You” a few seconds later. Now, everyone else really heard it, and I kinda think I heard it, but you know the power of suggestion and all that. It was more funny than anything else, but I still got a chill from it and felt a little scared.

I kinda ghosted for a second and went downstairs to tell Shelly that I had to let her down and when I came back up and opened the door, everyone told me that they heard the Spirit Box say the name “Mike” three times. That scared me again, ha, because now I felt like it wanted something from me.

That was about the last of anything in the actual bar that I thought was kinda unusual. They also set up a Spirit Chamber (like the glass box in the third season of Twin Peaks) and tried to see if anything came through, but nothing weird showed up.

The Spirit Chamber

So then we played some songs, finally had a couple of beers (no drinking during the investigation for me, I wanna see something dammit and not have to worry anyone would question my veracity!) And that was about it. I got back in the van and turned my phone back on.

And my phone just wouldn’t turn on. I turned it off at 25% battery four hours earlier and I’ve done that a million times. This time after a few minutes it finally showed me that the battery was gone, but I needed the GPS to get home! So I just drove around until I found a gas station where I could buy an overpriced charger and when I plugged it back in and tried turning it on, it immediately was at 25%. So what was draining the battery? That’s never happened to me before where it went from completely trained to quarter-charged, instantly.

I know, just a coincidence and it might be the new iOS that I just installed less than two weeks ago. But then on the drive home, the tire alert comes on saying that the left rear tire is flat.  We just got brand new tires on the van in March so I’m thinking, “Great!” Plus I’m driving alone at 3:30am between Madison and Baraboo and there’s nothing out there near the freeway.

Well, I thought I’d give it a a few minutes and see… When I looked at the tire sensors, it didn’t show that the tire just was losing pressure (as I’ve experienced in my own 2009 GM car, which is the same year as our van when it had a tire go flat), it didn’t show any reading at all for that left rear tire. But after a night of talking about scary things and thinking that spirits could invade our electronics, I was prone to flights of fancy. First the Facebook Live stream, then the phone, and now the van?

What do these guys want from me!?!

Nothing probably. Maybe they wanted to be heard. But I lived to tell you the tale. Didn’t see the tire alert when I moved the van today, though, so I’ll be keeping an eye on that!

Well, considering we were at a saloon right by the old train station at a bar filled with outlaws, we thought this old classic folk song about trains, prison, and redemption would be a good way to end the night and the podcast. And of course it will always make me think of the opening of Twilight Zone: The Movie with Dan Aykroyd and Albert Brooks, here’s just a clip of them singing along, but don’t worry, it won’t ruin the fun if you haven’t seen it yet!

Well, you wake up in the mornin’, you hear the work bell ring
And they march you to the table, you see the same old thing
Ain’t no food upon the table and no pork up in the pan
But you better not complain, boy, you get in trouble with the man

Let the midnight special, shine a light on me
Let the midnight special, shine a light on me
Let the midnight special, shine a light on me

Let the midnight special, shine a ever lovin’ light on me

Yonder come Miss Rosie, how in the world did you know?
By the way she wears her apron and the clothes she wore
Umbrella on her shoulder, piece of paper in her hand
She come to see the governor, she wants to free her man

Let the midnight special, shine a light on me
Let the midnight special, shine a light on me
Let the midnight special, shine a light on me
Let the midnight special, shine a ever lovin’ light on me

If you’re ever in Houston, oh you better do the right
You better not gamble and you better not fight
Or the sheriff will grab you and the boys, will bring you down
The next thing you know, boy, oh you’re prison bound

Let the midnight special, shine a light on me
Let the midnight special, shine a light on me
Let the midnight special, shine a light on me
Let the midnight special, shine a ever lovin’ light on me

 

163 – Flatliners: Hollywood and the Near Death Experience

Looks like there is no intellectual property that the great minds of Hollywood are afraid of resurrecting. Twenty seven years after it originally premiered, they’re bringing back Flatliners as a quasi-reboot / stealth sequel. They’re probably getting the message that us geeks are getting tired of rebooting properties when they could basically create a new story with new characters while keeping it in the same universe and even just some kind of nod to the original can satiate fans who are looking for a continuation of the story.

Joel Schumacher made one of the 1980s most stylish and inventive horror films with The Lost Boys (a film we’ve talked about on this podcast a hundred times) and he took the main heavy from that film (a little actor by the name of Kiefer Sutherland) and made him the lead of his next movie, Flatliners.

Flatliners is a film about medical students who create Near Death Experiences for themselves (the flatline of the title) and then get resuscitated back to life. They’re looking for the last frontier, what happens after we die, what Shakespeare called “the undiscovered country from whose bourne no man returns”, well, unless you’re Kiefer Sutherland, Kevin Bacon, Billy Baldwin, Oliver Platt, or Julia Roberts.

What they find is a cosmic justice waiting for them, an accountability for their sins in life waiting for them. And those sins can now come back to haunt them in our world, brought back through the portal of the Near Death Experience. That’s the gist of the story and it’s still an effective horror film. We’ll see about the remake starring Ellen Page and Diego Luna (who are usually pretty great) and directed by the original The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo director, Niels Arden Oplev (and written by the dude who wrote Source Code which is a solid Twilight Zone episode of a movie!)

Anyway, when you think of a Near Death Experience, you think of your life flashing before your eyes, a tunnel with a light at the end, and sometimes an Out of Body Experience where your spirit leaves your body and you watch what’s happening to you.

Well, science seems to have an answer for some of those aspects of NDEs, there are others that consistently confound modern science, including Out Of Body Experiences during clinical death (cardiac arrest at least) that are not quite explainable and in one case, seemingly impossible.

Then we go into celebrity Near Death Experiences, from Kiefer Sutherland’s own father Donald, to Johnny Cash, Gary Busey, and many more.

You know theyre father and son, right?
You know they’re father and son, right?

This week’s song is based on Dylan Thomas’ classic poem “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night”, with our own track about raging against the dying of the light. Here’s a headbanger about going out with a fight form our own flatline, “Pre-Emptive Strike”.

And when I’m hanging by a thread,
Tied to machines and half-dead,
and when you think it’s my final act,
don’t pull the plug,
I’m coming back.

Hey!
The strength of my will protects me from harm,
I’m not going out with a needle in my arm.

I’ll not go down without a fight,
my will is my pre-emptive strike,
I’ll not go down without a fight,
I’ll not go gently into that good night.

And when you think I can’t go on,
And when you think I’m not that strong,
I will not die by my own hand,
I’ll hold my ground, I’ll make my stand.

Hey!
The strength of my will protects me from harm,
I’m not going out with a needle in my arm.

I’ll not go down without a fight,
my will is my pre-emptive strike,
I’ll not go down without a fight,
I’ll not go gently into that good night.

162 – Unknown Codex: The Voynich Manuscript and Other Mysterious Books

There’s nothing quite as sexy as a good mystery. Sometimes the game is figuring out clues left by an artist to discover a hidden clue to their true intent (just look at the Twin Peaks online discussion fury that was happening all summer), sometimes the game is understanding what a mainly symbolic work is actually trying to say (look at Jennifer Lawrence and Darren Aaronofsky’s new film mother! and how its strange Biblical metaphor is alienating audiences looking for a straightforward horror film), and sometimes it’s just about figuring it out what words are said in the first place.

voynich manuscript
Gibberish and naked ladies…

The Voynich Manuscript has been called the most mysterious book in the world. Two-hundred forty pages of undecipherable language, pictures of plants, constellations, and naked women… it almost looks like a high school stoner’s notebook, all it’s missing is a crude #2 pencil rendition of the Dark Side of the Moon album cover. But what does it say? What does it mean? Is it a magical spellbook (there seems to be a recipe section)? Is it about finding the fountain of youth? One researcher in the 1970s claims that it contains the secret to the elixir of life…

Brought to the United States by Polish-American (yeah, just like me!) book trader  Wilfrid Voynich in 1912, it was said to have been bought by Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II in the 16th Century who was interested in old books that might turn his depressive moods around. By that era, it was already an old book and it was claimed to have been written by 13th Century English monk and “wizard”, Francis Bacon (who is famous for having a “brazen head”, which was an automaton made of bronze or brass that would answer people’s questions like a Medieval Magic 8-Ball.)

francis bacon voynich manuscript
Francis Bacon and his brazen head

To make it even more mysterious, it was thought that Rudolf II bought the book from Elizabethan astrologer John Dee and his companion Edward Kelley. Dee was a mystic who spent decades of his life trying to talk to angels and Kelley was a spirit medium who would sometimes receive supernatural instructions to do a wife swap with his friends (hey, you’re not going to turn down a request from the Angel Uriel, are you?!)

So, the book has a definite paranormal pedigree. People have spent the past hundred years trying to figure out just what the Voynich Manuscript might mean. It was donated to Yale in the 1960s after someone bought it from the estate of Voynich’s widow and you can see the whole thing online because they’ve digitized the whole thing!

Since people have been studying this mystery for the past hundred years, everyone was surprised when the prestigious Times Literary Supplement in the UK published an article saying that the Voynich Manuscript had been “solved” and it was just a medieval women’s health manual using Latin abbreviations instead of words. Hey, of course gynecological well-being is extraordinarily important and we’re 100% behind that, but let’s be honest, we were hoping for something a little more, well, mystical… (or at least a well-made hoax!)

Of course, the fine people of the Internet disagreed with Nicholas Gibbs’ conclusions on the manuscript almost as soon as he released them, but while we might never know the truth, it seemed like a reasonable explanation for such a strange text. At least for about five minutes anyway…

After we discuss some other famous mysterious books like the Codex Gigas (also known as The Devil’s Bible), a 17th Century letter “from a nun possessed by the Devil” that was recently deciphered, the Gospel of Mary, and the awesome treasure hunter’s code of the Beale Papers

codex gigas voynich manuscript
The Devil from the Codex Gigas, the largest  of any Medieval manuscripts…

And we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention some of our other favorite mysterious texts from the land of fiction.  Necronomicon Ex-Mortis of Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead series to the Darkhold of Agents of SHIELD, mystical books capture our imagination in stories as well as real-life mysteries. The most famous is H.P. Lovecraft’s Necronomicon (which, in a story by Colin Wilson, actually was the Voynich Manuscript.) Lovecraft himself never fully created the text of his purely fictional book, but fans decided to make a version in the 1960s and sell it in bookstores, which lead to decades of kids thinking that Lovecraft’s evil book of the Old Ones transcribed by the Mad Arab Abdul Alhazred was an actual book and not just created out of whole cloth by the weird fiction master.

 

But in the end, all of these Medieval mysterious texts had to be copied by hand, a long and arduous process that could take years. Not that many people could read because there weren’t that many books! Before the printing press, the only way to disseminate written knowledge was manually and the copying would often be imperfect. That’s the idea of this week’s song, when you just make a copy, there’s something missing, and when you make a copy of a copy, it’s even worse (see the Michael Keaton/Harold Ramis underrated comedy, Multiplicity, for more!)

Whatever happened to your passion,
and all the pretty things that you used to believe in?
Was it worth trading your soul in,
for a vampire bite and a lump of coal?

I heard all the junior high school cheerleaders had a crush on you,
I know because I read it on your FAQ,
and all the small town boys were chomping at the bit,
a rose by any other name smells just like $&@#.

Did you get your piece of the action,
Your pot of gold and an ice cream cone?
Did my death give you satisfaction,
I saw you paint my picture on an old tombstone, yeah.

I heard all the neighbors’ kids,
were in love with you/
I know because I read it on your FAQ,
and I tried for so long to put my finger on it,
a rose by any other name smells just like $&@#.

Are you real,
or just a carbon copy?
A bloodless rose has a heartless body,
And you feel,
just like a carbon copy,
you’re paper thin of who you used to be.

I heard all the high school cheerleaders were in love with you,
I know because I read it on your FAQ,
and all the small town boys were chomping at the bit,
a rose by any other name smells just like $&@#.

Are you real,
or just a carbon copy?
A bloodless rose has a heartless body,
And you feel,
just like a carbon copy,
you’re paper thin of who you used to be.
Now you’re just like me,
just like me, just like me, just like me.

Are you just a carbon copy?
A rose by any other name,
smells like shit just the same.

161 – Growing Up Paranormal: A Conversation with MJ Dickson

Ever since our friend Lisa from Madison Ghost Walks met MJ Dickson from the British investigation group Sage Paranormal on a paranormal cruise earlier in this year, she said we have to have her on the show.  She’s as down-to-earth as a psychic is gonna get and has lots of great stories of growing up in a paranormal family.

Raised all over the world in countries from Zimbabwe  to Greece, MJ  Dickson discovered her special gift at an early age when her and her mother ended up seeing the same spectral figure and she understood that she came from a line of psychic women.

Once her and her husband moved to England, she set up shop in the small town of Henley-in-Arden and started up a psychic reader business. When she started she said the townspeople were suspicious of her weird outsider status, but she says through kindness and patience over the years, she’s as accepted as anyone else.

And an interesting tidbit, she uses tarot cards as really just a prop to help make her customers feel a little more comfortable with the information that she’s hearing from her spirit guides

In 2011, MJ Dickson founded the Sage Paranormal team and we’ve included some of their best evidence from their investigation at The Explosion Museum of Naval Firepower (perhaps the greatest name for a museum ever)!

We discuss MJ’s experiences growing up in a paranormal family, some of her weirdest experiences, her favorite investigations, and of course, her paranormal convention!

MJ is the Founder of Sage Paracon UK which is coming up Sept. 22-24 at Warwick Castle. That’s right, a paranormal convention in a haunted castle with a ghost investigation with some of our favorite paranormal people like Haunted New England‘s Jeff Belanger and the world’s greatest Ouija expert, Robert Murch. Too awesome and we’re completely jelly about the whole thing!

She’s also working on Haunted Road Trip videos that you should be able to see on Allison from Milwaukee Ghosts’ YouTube channel soon! 

In the interview, MJ mentions that a few years ago she was diagnosed with cancer and the first thing that she said was that she’s the kind of person who’s never going to give up. We found that very moving and that combined with the fact that she’s in Britain made us think about those “Keep Calm And Carry On” posters that were put up everywhere over there in World War 2. You have to just keep going in the fave of adversity, whether it’s the Nazis or it’s The Big C, you still have to live your life, waking up every day, eating, dressing, etc…   MJ Dickson’s courage is inspiring so this song is dedicated to her, Sunspot with “Keep Calm And Carry On”.

Don’t hold back,
move forward
and we give
no quarter,
until the moment you’re called upon,
keep calm and carry on.
No yield or,
surrender,
we must hold,
the center,
It’s always darkest before the dawn,
keep calm and carry on.
The earth will turn to hollow,
the seas will rise to swallow,
blackened skies and poison rains,
the forests turn to flames.
everything that we believe,
and will transform into a deceit,
and every little victory,
is ashes in your mouth.
But play the long game,
Your strength lies in your power to take pain.
Over and over again.
We can withstand,
exist, resist,
the blackest urge.
Stand by your principle,
to be invincible.
Don’t hold back,
move forward
and we give
no quarter,
until the moment you’re called upon,
keep calm and carry on.
No yield or,
surrender,
we must hold,
the center,
It’s always darkest before the dawn,
keep calm and carry on.
The stars will flicker and fade
The flora turns to nightshade,
the sun becomes lost in shadow
and the hills crumble below
And those in who we placed our faith,
will throw our trust away.
And all the prayers that you say,
Are ashes in your mouth.
But play the long game,
Your strength lies in your power to take pain.
Over and over again.
We can withstand,
exist, resist,
the blackest urge.
Stand by your principle,
to be invincible.
Don’t hold back,
move forward
and we give
no quarter,
until the moment you’re called upon,
keep calm and carry on.
No yield or,
surrender,
we must hold,
the center,
It’s always darkest before the dawn,
keep calm and carry on.

160 – Texas Chainsaws, Space Vampires, and The Poltergeist Curse: Remembering Tobe Hooper

Filmmaker Tobe Hooper passed away on August 26th, 2017 at the age of 74. Hooper was most famous for being the director on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Poltergeist, but he also set his indelible mark on great films like Salem’s Lot and (the extremely under appreciated, in my opinion) Lifeforce. While he’ll always be remembered for having a massive impact on the the horror genre with his first big film, his other works have had real life paranormal urban legends and inspirations behind them. Allison from Milwaukee Ghosts, Wendy, and I talk about they recent Mothman investigations (Allison in Chicago and Wendy just went to Point Pleasant, West Virginia) and then we get right into our favorite Tobe Hooper movies.

First of all, we discuss the marketing behind The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, because the original tagline said that it was based on true events – which is completely not true! Of course, that kind of marketing helps sell tickets and makes something even scarier (just think about The Conjuring as a modern example). That little bit of brilliance helped Tobe Hooper turn his $300,000 independent Austin, Texas movie turn into a 146 million dollar (adjusted for inflation) horror juggernaut that inspired sequels, remakes, and even launched the careers of Matthew McConaughey and Renee Zellweger.

But Leatherface was inspired by our own America’s Dairlyand homegrown Psycho, Ed Gein, who created his own masks of human skin from corpses he’d dig up in the Plainfield, Wisconsin graveyard. Ed died in Wendy and my town of Madison, but Allison has a fun story about her college poetry professor who used to volunteer at socials at the Mendota Mental Health Institute here and even got to dance with Ed himself (who was prone to dementia and considered good natured in his old age.) That was about as far as the “Based on a true story”, Tobe Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre got. Silence of the Lambs, Psycho, and a little known Roddy McDowell film called It! were also inspired by Ed Gein.

Tobe Hooper made a huge impact on the cultural zeitgeist with his adaptation of Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot for television and 11 years before kids were traumatized by IT, it was vampires in Maine that gave them nightmares.

Tobe Hooper
Hooper and Spielberg on the set of Poltergeist

But then Tobe Hooper hit Hollywood pay dirt by scoring the directing gig for Poltergeist. While there was a controversy that Steven Spielberg might have been the real director, our interest comes from the curse that supposedly followed the actors involved with the production.

The story of the Poltergeist curse has been around for at least 20 years and it involves the fact that the two of the actresses died very young, Dominique Dunne was murdered by her boyfriend and Heather O’Rourke (the girl that says “They’re here”) died of bowel obstruction complications during the filming of Poltergeist III. 

Plenty of stories on the Internet and on reality TV try to make it seem like there’s something to the curse, and the actress who payed the mother in the first two films, JoBeth Williams, even added fuel to the fire by claiming that real skeletons were used during the making of the film (that part might be true!). But beyond the coincidental tragedies of the two young actresses dying young, there really is no other evidence of any Poltergeist curse.

Hooper followed up Poltergeist with the awesome Lifeforce, written by Alien‘s Dan O’Bannon, but also based on Colin Wilson’s work The Space Vampires. Wilson was a fiction and nonfiction writer who would often deal with the paranormal and metaphysical and what makes The Space Vampires extra fun is that Wilson wrote the book on a challenge from Wisconsin author, August Derleth. Derleth is the one who kept H.P. Lovecraft’s world and mythology alive after his death, and he challenged Wilson to write a book in the Lovecraft vein. The Space Vampires was the book, and Tobe Hooper made it come alive (or undead!) with his adaption in Lifeforce. It wasn’t a big box office hit, but it’s been critically reevaluated in recent years for the terror-filled science fiction extravaganza that it was.

tobe hooper the saw is family
Tobe Hooper helping out one of Leatherface’s family onset

After the mid-80s and Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 not lighting the box office on fire, Hooper did mostly television work and one of his coolest shows was a 1991 TV show (hosted by Leonard Nimoy!) called Haunted Lives: True Ghost Stories where he dramatized the events of the haunted Toys R’ Us in Sunnyvale, California. Now, that story means a lot to me since I saw it on That’s Incredible! when I was tiny. It probably was the first “real” ghost story that I can remember.

tobe hooper haunted toys r us
The image captured during the seance

The ghost story of the haunted Toys R’ Us in Sunnyvale, California involves a farm hand in the Nineteenth Century named Yohnny Yohanson who was in love with the owner of the farm’s daughter named Elizabeth. He loves her, she doesn’t love him, he dies in a tragic accident. One hundred years later, there’s a Toys R’ Us built on the site and strange things start occurring. Famous psychic Sylvia Browne shows up, has a seance, tells everyone the story, and they capture a photo during the seance of a “ghost”. It’s a classic ghost story made for TV and it had a huge impact on me as a kid. The fact that Tobe Hooper made a dramatized version of the events (that had way more inventive camera work and effects for a time than these shows usually had!) blew my mind!

Check out this great in-depth article about the Yohnny, Elizabeth, and the haunted Toys R’ Us that is well worth the read! 

1991 Haunted Lives True Ghost Stories – Episode 1 (Real Ghosts) from Jonathan Moser on Vimeo.

And it’s the Toys R’ Us story that helped us decide on this week’s Sunspot song. “Broken Toy” is a track full of 1980s’ nostalgia, when Tobe Hooper was in his directing prime. In the Texas Chainsaw Massacre it’s Sally Hardesty’s “innocence” that saves her, which is  one of the most common tropes of slasher films that followed (deftly parodied in the third act of the first Scream film), but still relatively novel back in 1974. The main thrust of this track is how once youthful innocence is lost, nothing is eve quite the same.

I opened a box of toys I broke,
and the ones that have broken me.Cruising in my lego car,
and Jem was my favorite star,
But I fell in love with a girl,
from a galaxy far, far away.
Hey boy, where did you go?
Life ain’t that simple, don’t you know?
And the Duke boys couldn’t get away,
when I painted in shades of grey.Don’t look me in the eye,
I can’t take what it makes me see.
It opens a box of toys I broke,
and the ones that have broken me.
It reminds me too much,
of the way things used to be.
I can’t play with a broken toy,
I can’t live on a memory.

Ronnie’s got a million guns,
Protecting us from Mao Tse Tsung,
but I don’t want to think about,
”The Day After” today.
Hey boy, what did you say?
Can Voltron make it all okay?
Or will my faith that ran away,
bump into me someday?

Don’t look me in the eye,
I can’t take what it makes me see.
It opens a box of toys I broke,
and the ones that have broken me.
It reminds me too much,
of the way things used to be.
I can’t play with a broken toy,
I can’t live on a memory.

credits

159 – Sweet Home Chicago Mothman: Round Table with Lon Strickler, Manuel Navarette, and Tobias Wayland

The Midwest is abuzz this Summer with stories of winged humanoid creatures flying over Chicagoland. Tall dark creatures with red glowing eyes have been spotted all over the city with dozens of sightings this year alone.

Here’s Lon Strickler from Phantoms and Monsters‘ awesome Google Map of the Chicago Mothman sightings.

Now Lon has been collecting these stories, Manuel Navarette from UFO Clearinghouse has been writing up the reports and investigating each site, our friend Tobias Wayland from the Singular Fortean has been following the sightings closely and looking for ties to other cryptid and paranormal cases, and of course, our own Allison Jornlin from Milwaukee Ghosts has been visiting all of the sites and walking through them for her Haunted Road Trip YouTube channel.

The Chicago Mothman is the big paranormal story of the summer and we knew it was time to get a round table together of these researchers to dive into the best sightings, the methodology of investigation, and the similarities and differences from the 1966 and 1967 Point Pleasant, West Virginia Mothman sightings that was a harbinger of disaster for the town.

And unlike this summer’s King Arthur movie, our Round Table does NOT disappoint (zing!) Not only does Lon give us the skinny on Remote Viewing Experiments he’s been conducting, but Manuel tells us why he thinks that there is a cover-up from the local government and media.

Wendy and I also shout out to all the new friends we made at the Michigan Paracon over the weekend in Sault Ste. Marie, we headed north to the Upper Peninsula to party with some awesome Michiganders and meet up with former podcast guests like Week In Weird‘s Greg and Dana Newkirk, Haunt Investigators of Michigan, Ghost Adventures’ Jeff Belanger, and Ghost Hunting 2.0‘s Chris Bores.

Wendy, Allison, and I also sported some sweet new See You On The Other Side t-shirts with a special new design made by Brent Simpson, and here you can see Allison modeling the shirt with some of our friends from the Paracon!

And you can check out one of those shirts for yourself on Amazon right here!

Now for an episode like this, you know we just couldn’t resist working on a song by the man who sold his soul at the Crossroads himself, Robert Johnson (who we covered in detail in our first episode, “Making A Deal With The Devil: The Musicians Who Sold Their Souls To Satan”. ) Everyone from B.B. King to The Blues Brothers have done their versions of this song, and we thought we’d leave our mark on it. It’s also the last song that Stevie Ray Vaughan every played, at Alpine Valley Music Theatre in Wisconsin in 1990. It was an epic jam with Stevie, Eric Clapton,  Buddy Guy, Jimmie Vaughan, and Robert Cray – August 25th, 1990. So we also thought it was appropriate because this wewas the 27th anniversary of his death. And here’s our little blues jam, Sunspot with “Sweet Home Chicago Mothman”.

Oh, baby don’t you want to go?
Oh, baby don’t you want to go?
Back to the land of winged humanoids
To my sweet home Chicago

On Roosevelt and 59th
perched right on the light,
Flying off to the air
after flapping its wings twice,

Oh whoa,
honey don’t you want to go
where the mothman flies
Sweet Home Chicago

At Humboldt it’s an owl,
they call it Lechuza,
eyes of glowing red,
and they’re staring right through ya

Oh Baby,
Honey don’t you wanna go
to the land of the were-owl
Sweet Home Chicago.

Went to Lollapalooza
wanted to see the bands
But he had to fly away
everyone yelled at the mothman

saying Baby
Honey don’t you wanna go
to the land of man sized bats,
Sweet Home Chicago

The Tribune is silent
but City Hall knows it’s true
the Police won’t do nothing to
Make Godfather look a fool

And they say Baby
Honey don’t you wanna go
to where nobody’s seen nothing
My Sweet Home Chicago

Oh, baby don’t you want to go?
Oh, baby don’t you want to go?
Back to the land of winged humanoids
To my sweet home Chicago

158 – Fool Us: Magic and Mystery with David Parr

Magician David Parr’s recent appearance on Penn & Teller: Fool Us ended up with David performing a neat card trick with Alyson Hanigan (Willow from Buffy!) that not only amazed the crowd, but managed to fool both of the title stars! The show is based around the famous magic duo trying to figure out tricks by other magicians and if they can’t figure your trick out, you get to perform with them at their Las Vegas show! On the August 7th episode, David Parr was the only one who managed that feat!

You can watch the segment in its entirety on David Parr’s YouTube Channel

In addition to just being an incredible performer, though, David brings a cast knowledge of magical and mystical history to his show. He has a special Spiritualist-type magic performance in addition to his stage show (which you can see in Chicago at The Magic Cabaret) where he delves into the history of the seance as well as the spectacle.

David Parr
David Parr looking like he wants to trick you!

In this episode, Allison from Milwaukee Ghosts joins Wendy and I as we talk to David Parr about his favorite tricks, the whole experience of being on the Penn & Teller: Fool Us program, the problem with modern skepticism, non-staged and unexpected paranormal experiences during magic shows, and of course, miniature guillotines that kids used to get as presents (WHAT?!)

David Parr and the Miniature Guillotine
David Parr and his Miniature Guillotine

Well, one of the things that we discussed in the podcast with David Parr was that humans really love mysteries! That feeling of wonder and “not knowing” helps keep life interesting and fun, and magic is definitely part of that. We all love being fooled a little bit, whether it’s willfully getting engaged in the suspension of disbelief during a movie or watching a lady being sawed in half onstage, or even in our relationships. There’s what’s real and what we want to believe, and often, it’s just more fun to say to the person we love, “Lie to Me”.

Tell me I’m the biggest,
tell me I’m the best.
Tell me how hard I feel
and I’m better than the rest.

Let me know how good my kisses taste,
You’ve never felt this way before
Tell me how every other boy,
left you wanting more.

I can smell the bull$&^% on your breath.

Lie. To. Me.
Lie. To. Me.
Tell me I’m your big daddy,
Everything you’ve ever dreamed.
Lie. To. Me.
Lie. To. Me.
I’m the only one you need,
The only man who can compete.

I love it when you fool me baby
I love it when you fib
I love it when you make me feel
I’m just the best that there is

I’d rather live a fantasy
then suffer through the truth
And your sweet little fictions
Are all I need for proof

I can smell the bull$&^% on your breath.

Lie. To. Me.
Lie. To. Me.
Tell me I’m your big daddy,
Everything you’ve ever dreamed.
Lie. To. Me.
Lie. To. Me.
I’m the only one you need,
The only man who can compete.

157 – Monsters Among Us: Cryptids and More with Linda Godfrey

It’s no secret that we’re big fans of Linda Godfrey, the author who first brought the world’s attention to the Beast of Bray Road in the early 1990s.  We interviewed her all the way back in Episode 51, brought her to our cryptid round table in Episode 67, and couldn’t wait to get her back to discuss her latest book, Monsters Among Us. I mean, of course we’re going to love Linda!

linda godfrey
Linda Godfrey
  1. She’s from right down the road from where we all grew up.
  2. She co-authored the book Weird Wisconsin which is sadly out-of-print but it was the Fortean Bible of America’s Dairyland in the 90s.
  3. She is a great storyteller who keeps things believable. I don’t have to mention that there’s a trend in this field to just jump and exaggerate outrageous details to juice up a paranormal story. Linda das managed to keep a good deal of her journalistic integrity for over a quarter of a century, now that’s something to be proud of!

To kick off the show, Wendy and I use our trashed voices to talk a little about our musical weekend, including a show at a haunted club in Middleton, Wisconsin, the Wisconsin State Fair, and an afternoon show on the Sugar River (which has its own UFO sightings and ghost stories) and then Wendy also tells a couple highlights from her trip to the Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas at the beginning of August. Including her two favorite cosplayers as Captain Kirk and Mister Spock!

STOP THE PRESS! I found Captain Kirk AND Mr. Spock! 🖖🚀 #startrek #startrekconvention #captainkirk #mrspock

A post shared by Wendy Staats (@sunspotwendy) on

Then, Allison from Milwaukee Ghosts joins Linda and I for a discussion about the latest news about the Beast of Bray Road, her favorite new cryptid stories,  a little Native American lore from Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, and even a cryptic preview of what she’s working on right now!

YOu’re going to want to get more info on Linda by checking out her blog and get the latest on the Chicago Mothman, dogmen, werewolves, skin walkers, bipedal canines, and more at her Twitter feed (@lindasgodfrey).

Considering that our first interview with Linda about her book, American Monsters, inspired our EP of the same name, we knew that another conversation with her would spark some musical creativity.  Her titles just lend very well to tracks laden with symbolism. When we thought about “Monsters Among Us”, we thought about our neighbors. Your neighbors seem like they’re great people and you have fun with them, you have them over for a barbecue, and you really like them.  But then you see what they write about on Facebook. You see what kind of beliefs they have and in today’s Internet and political climate, it seemed that writing a song about how people that usually like each other as neighbors who connect through their locations or families or sports teams, might hate each other if they knew all about each other’s political beliefs.

Are other people’s differing beliefs in this world of outrage, forces for and against political correctness, and fake clickbait so offensive that we discount how they are when you’re hanging out with them in person. So we thought that lent itself to an interesting song idea, “The Psychopath Next Door”.

Watching through the windows
Peeking through the cracks
Waiting for their moment
So don’t you turn your back.

They act like they’re your friends,
But don’t you be a cuck,
They’re worshipping the Devil,
And it’s your soul they’ll suck

Sometimes the truth
Is just a metaphor
To think I barbecued with
The psychopath next door

The monsters live among us,
I see plenty everyday.
I don’t know who I can trust.
So I’ll send you all away.

So I don’t want no bumperstickers,
And I don’t want no big red hats.
I’m so sick of disagreeing,
So I’ll just hang out with my cats.

Sometimes the truth
Is just a metaphor
To think I barbecued with
The psychopath next door

Sometimes the truth
Is just a metaphor
To think I barbecued with
The psychopath next door