Category Archives: Podcast

209 – Between Love And Hate: The Devil Is Real with John Eagan

Before John Eagan had a paranormal experience, he was most famous for writing a how-to book on how to pick up ladies in a nightclub. That book, How to Pick Up Beautiful Women in Nightclubs or Any Other Place: Secrets Every Man Should Know got John onto talk shows all over the country in 1993, from Howard Stern to Geraldo.

And in this day and age of The Game, (Neil Strauss’ work on picking up ladies) where romance is achieved through insults (“negging”) and wearing outrageous clothing (“peacocking”), John Eagan’s advice to wear clean clothes and how to quickly get over your fear of rejections seems quaint and old-school. The fact that his book is less about getting laid and more about creating relationships makes John’s advice seem of a different era.

And that’s the point, John Eagan thinks that the world of this era is changing to something dangerous and he was given a warning from the depths of Hell itself. That’s why he’s written a new book, Between Love and Hate: The Devil Is Real. John was born a nice Catholic boy in New York City and moved to New Jersey as a young man.

He got married, had a family, became a special education teacher and was a bartender on the side. It was in that bar is where he interviewed the thousands of ladies that would form the basis for his romance self-help book, but it’s also where he met many lost souls. People who would pass away and John promised that he would pray for their souls to go to Heaven because they didn’t have anyone else who would.

John Eagan and his wife and the bust of Jesus he made from recycled candles

And it’s because of those daily prayers for wayward souls that John thinks that he might have caught the attention of an entity from Hell, a creature who subsists on perverting humans to do evil things and to swallow their souls for eternity. That’s what his experience entails and John gives us all the gruesome details of the Poltergeist-like experiences in his home that were witnessed by his wife and son, and how it culminated in the appearance of a demon surrounded by blue flames in his own home.

The demon in blue fire that came to John and said “No More”

For the song this week, we wanted to go with the New Jersey-theme and bust out a track inspired by the one of the greatest horror-punk bands of all,    The Misfits. So, here’s a Sunspot take on a Misfits track, based on John Eagan’s paranormal experience with a quote directly from the demon itself, “No More” 

A world of souls under attack
the Gerasene demoniac

unclean
obscene

You get caught between love and hate
we’re tempting you to seal your fate

straight down to Hell
the infidel

Swallow your soul, the Devil’s ready,
My name is Legion for we are many

I cry no more

You don’t need to be possessed.
to be banned from all the blessed

I’ve got a fever
for the unbeliever

All the dybbuks and the demons
love to watch you die screaming

in a useless prayer
to a god that doesn’t care

Swallow your soul, the Devil’s ready,
My name is Legion for we are many

I cry no more

A world of souls under attack
the Gerasene demoniac

unclean
obscene

You get caught between love and hate
we’re tempting you to seal your fate

straight down to Hell
the infidel

Swallow your soul, the Devil’s ready,
My name is Legion for we are many

I cry no more
I cry no more
I cry no more
I cry no more

until I watch you die screaming

I cry no more



208 – State Fair of the Strange: Sideshows, Weird Foods, and The Minnesota Iceman

We’ve been regular performers at the Wisconsin State Fair for the last eight years and have grown to love the goofy mix of agricultural excellence, carny spectacle, and sheer gluttony that comes with the celebration of all things Wisconsin. They even have a complete list of all the foods “on a stick” that you can enjoy.

Here’s a video of our first show at the State Fair (which is also the first place I ever performed Karaoke – “Born To Be Wild” if you must know…)

And the thing is, many of the things to do at the State Fair are innocent and fun, I mean just look at the intro to Rogers & Hammerstein’s State Fair musical (that Wendy still can remember all the words to!)

But the State Fair has always had a lot of weirdness to it. First of all, it’s a place where people make giant things just for the Hell of it. In Wisconsin, we just made the world’s largest cream puff that’s three and a half feet long and weighs over 125 pounds. Why? Why the Hell not?!

But it’s also the longtime home of the sideshow, there used to be over a hundred traveling sideshows touring American State Fairs in the 1950s and 60s and there even was a town where the sideshow performers lived during the Winter (Gibtown, Florida, where The X-Files got the inspiration for their Season 2 classic, “Humbug”.)

Jim Rose and the Geek

The sideshows were still around when I went to the fair as a kid, but you’re not going to find shows that feature genetic abnormalities anymore. Some states have passed laws against exploring people with deformities and even though sideshows may not have been as exploitative as we think, there’s still an icky aftertaste in gawking at other human beings that we feel today. (At least in person, here’s a great article from Variety that compares modern reality TV to the old-time sideshow and well… see if you can tell the difference.)

But one of the traveling exhibits that I wished I would have seen as a kid is  the “Minnesota Iceman”. Was it the corpse of the famous “Missing Link” that traveled the country? Was it the last living Neanderthal?

Found in Wisconsin… of course!

Well, there’s lots of conflicting stories when it comes to the Iceman and we go over them in the episode. The FBI and the Smithsonian even get involved.  Wendy and I finally saw him in March when we were down at SXSW and made a visit to The Museum of the Weird in Austin. You can hear our verdict in the podcast.

In this episode you’ll:

  • Learn what Abe Lincoln was up to at the 1959 Wisconsin State Fair
  • Be regaled by the strange history of The Minnesota Iceman
  • learn about the ghostly specters that haunt the Minnesota State Fairgrounds
  • understand our own famous Wisconsin cryptid hoax, The Hodag
  • Hear about the weirdest foods at State Fairs across America
  • Finally get to understand what a “Buckeye” is
For this week’s song, I thought it would be sweet if I tried to sing as many of the foods that I could rhyme that are served at the Wisconsin State Fair “on a stick”. We make fun of the unhealthy foods you can devour at festivals and sometimes I hear people bemoaning the culture of deep frying and mobile cuisine. Not me, though. There is something uniquely and wonderfully American about all of it. There are wonders to see and things to explore. We’re the descendants of the people who weren’t satisfied with what they had and they needed to move to create a better life. That’s ingrained in our culture and sometimes we have to walk when we eat, dammit. “Life On A Stick” isn’t as bad at all.
It’s All-American like Apple pie,
waving to the fire trucks on the Fourth of July.
Time keeps moving on,
you don’t let it pass you by,
you take a big bite out of it.
You keep on walking, that’s the trick,
and know that life can be beautiful
on a stick.
They’ve got
ants and bacon
tator tots
BBQ pork chop
beer battered cheddar sausage
corn dogs and cake pops
candy apples caramel apples
cheese balls and shish ka bob
coconut shrimp and boneless chicken wings
bacon wrapped pork that’s pig inside a pig
They’ve got
colby cheese and
cookie dough
a spiral cut potato
dill pickles, crab cakes
fish and chips, donut holes
Super Dog, Twisted Dog,
Tijuana Bacon Dog
Pizza in a waffle,
meatballs and Milky Ways,
a snickers and a twinkie,
you’ll be in the john for days.
It’s All-American like Apple pie,
waving to the fire trucks on the Fourth of July.
The time keeps moving on,
you don’t let it pass you by,
you take a big bite out of it
You keep on walking, that’s the trick,
and know that life can be beautiful
on a stick.
They’ve got
shrimp tempura
battered shark
cotton candy
ice cream bars
olives, stuffing,
root beer pops
steak and egg,
Pretzel brats
S’mores, sliders, deep friend fruit,
scotch eggs, french onion soup
Wisconsin Grilled Cheese or a Swiss & Rye,
Turducken on a stick to make you think you’re gonna die
They’ve got
Fried Elvis, Fat Elvis,
Salad and Sheboygan brats
cream cheese and spaghetti
bacon-wrapped chestnuts,
Door County Cherry Pie,
Mac & Cheese and lug nuts
Chocolate covered ‘nanas, peanut butter jelly,
flaming hot corn cobs rumblin in your belly
It’s All-American like Apple pie,
waving to the fire trucks on the Fourth of July.
Well time keeps moving on,
you don’t let it pass you by,
you take a big bite out of it
You keep on walking, that’s the trick,
and know that life can be beautiful
on a stick.

207 – More Punk Rock and UFOs: True Believers with Mike Damante

We first met Mike Damante from the Punk Rock and UFOs blog last year when he released his book Cryptozoology Meets Anarchy. Since then he’s been regularly interviewing paranormal and UFO experiencers, reviewing the latest alien-adjacent films and TV shows, and exploring a lot of the pop culture side of anomalous phenomena from pro wrestling to 90s pop-punk bands. It’s a blog after our own media-saturated hearts!

mike damante punk rock and ufos
Mike Damante with the completely non-controversial Tom DeLonge from Blink-182 and To The Stars Academy

Mike’s new book, Punk Rock and UFOs: True Believers takes it’s title from a classic Bouncing Souls track. While that song isn’t about ghosts or UFOs or anything, it is about the comraderie and the solidarity of the friends you made in youth and how that never really goes away, even when you get old. To some extent, I’ve seen that in the UFO and paranormal experiencer community. Once you’ve seen something literally out of this world, there isn’t any going back. You’ve had a personal glimpse into what lies beyond, something unexplainable. It’s like trying on the glasses from They Live for a few minutes. Empirical evidence is the most convincing kind, but it’s only convincing to you because it’s so individual to you. You’ve been touched or blessed or just in the right place at the right time, and other people might think you’re crazy. Once you’re in that group, there’s a kinship to it, a Fellowship of the Weird.

There’s of course, a real kinship to the punk rock culture as well. Whether or not you think it all sprang from the mind of Malcolm McLaren as manufactured rebellion, at least rebellion is built into it. It’s a feature, not a bug. It’s a social movement built on the the outcasts of the current young generation offending the sensibilities of the previous generation. Grizzled old punks with greying mohawks arguing that new punk music and fashion isn’t the real deal (“Punk is dead”, “Hot Topic killed Punk Rock”, “[Your favorite band here] isn’t real punk rock”, etc…) has been going on since at least 1978, so the rebellion is meant to happen inside the movement as well.

It’s like in Star Wars where Sith apprentices are supposed to eventually kill their master and take over. It’s DIY creative destruction. I don’t fit in with your thing, so I’m going to make my own thing. It’s generational conflict at a microcosmic level and while it often for silly internecine conflicts and self-destruction, it also makes for great music and art.

rollins band henry rollins

Questioning anything and everything, to me, is punk rock. – Henry Rollins

Well, that’s something that happens in the parnormal community as well. There are plenty of similarities between these two groups that exist on the fringe of the mainstream. As a musician who’s played punk rock and in punk rock dives for twenty years as well as a paranormal enthusiast and ghost hunter, I can certainly attest to that! So that’s where we go in this conversation with Mike Damante about his new book. We discuss:

  • Some of Mike Damante’s favorite UFO stories and interviews
  • What’s Tom DeLonge been up to and what’s To The Stars Academy about?
  • How Mike has changed since diving in headfirst into the paranormal community
  • Why taking UFO and Bigfoot sightings seriously is important
  • How research into strange phenemona can get more of the respect it deserves

Punk Rock and UFOs: True Believers by Mike Damante is available now and you can get it right here.

In the spirit of Henry Rollins’ quote about “questioning everything” and listening to the Bouncing Souls song that inspired the title of Punk Rock and UFOs:True Believers, we went for a late 90’s-style punk song with this week’s paranormal tracks. Here’s our anthem for not just regurgitating accepted dogma and thinking for yourself: “God Bless The Heretics”.

I did my best to get along
and I was so scared of being wrong

Well my head needed a swift kick
agnostics and skeptics

don’t let the power pull your strings
you need to question everything

I don’t need to be redeemed
We have the right to choose what we believe
And all you need is in yourself
Blow up the past and make it quick
God Bless The Heretics

We’re so afraid to rock the boat
you might pick wrong and they’ll cut your throat

Would you dare be a polemicist
Empiricist or materialist

don’t let the power pull your strings
you need to question everything

I don’t need to be redeemed
We have the right to choose what we believe
And all you need is in yourself
Blow up the past and make it quick
God Bless The Heretics

206 – Inside The Lightning Ball: A Lifetime of UFO Experiences with Dr. Irena Scott

Dr. Irena Scott has been seeing UFOs since she was a little girl. She was only five when she had her first strange encounter with a lightning ball outside a window. Growing up on a tiny farm in rural Ohio in the mid-Twntietch Century, little Irena didn’t know what flying saucers were or who the little green men that flew them wanted but she continued to experience weird things all throughout her childhood and well into the rest of her life.

inside the lightning ball
Dr. Scott goes inside the lightning ball

Dr. Irena Scott went on to work for the Defense Intelligence Agency (a United States government agency focused on providing foreign intelligence to support combat missions), get her PhD in physiology from the University of Missouri, and serve  in various academic capacities at universities across the country. She’s been on MUFON’s board of directors as well as publishing several books on UFO phenomena.

While she’s researched sightings and cases with everyone from Jenny Randles (the woman who gave us some of the alien/human hybrid theories) to Budd Hopkins (one of the researchers responsible for our modern ideas of alien abduction), we mostly stick to the experiences that Dr. Irena Scott has seen for herself and in this episode, you will hear:

  • The strange light in her bedroom that both Irena Scott and her sister saw in their farmhouse as a child
  • Her mother’s later confirmation of unusual activity at the farmhouse as well
  • Her work for the DIA with spy satellite photography and what she learned about how UFOs got swept under the rug
  • Irena Scott and her sister’s UFO sightings in the 1960s on the same highway Betty and Barney Hill were on
  • The Men In Black-style experience (with a random trucker) that they both were confronted with directly after the sighting

You can find her book, Inside The Lightning Ball: Scientific Study of Lifelong UFO Experiencers on Amazon or her website, IrenaScott.com.

One of the things I liked about Dr. Scott, was that she wasn’t trying to explain anything away. There’s no theories about what aliens want or if they’re even aliens at all, we just talked about the things that she’s seen since she’s been a little girl. UFOs are real to her as planes in the sky are to you and me.

That’s the idea behind this week’s song. It must be a devil of a struggle to see things that most other people wouldn’t believe, that she herself would have a hard time believing if her sister wasn’t there with her to share the experience. When you see something that other people don’t, either they’re blind to it or you’re crazy. That’s gotta drive you mad and what can you do about it? You can tell other people right away, but what if they don’t believe you?

That’s scary for a little girl but even scarier for an academic, where UFOs are often treated as a joke. You might have to wait until you’re older and established to reveal yourself. When you’re faced with something like that, all you can do is just soldier on and “Keep Looking Up”.

And how do you explain all the things you see?
From why the sky is blue to the flight of a bumblebee
well I don’t think you can, but I don’t doubt you believe
that you can trust your senses, that you’re not crazy.

Sometimes it’s more than I can handle
sometimes it’s more than I can take
sometimes I am a bad example
of what I need when I’m gonna break

Keep looking up
When you’re stuck
outta luck
and dumbstruck
Keep looking up

Now just imagine there’s something that you know is real
something that you’ve seen your whole life, but something no one else can feel
would you hold it as your secret and always keep your truth concealed
or would you let yourself be ridiculed with a big reveal

Sometimes it’s more than you can handle
sometimes it’s more than you can take
sometimes you are a bad example
of what you need when you’re gonna break

Keep looking up
When you’re stuck
outta luck
and dumbstruck
Keep looking up

Keep looking up
When you’re stuck,
when you’re outta luck
and dumbstruck
Keep looking up

205 – Adventure Town Communiqué: An Intrepid Interview with Scotty Roberts

The first time we met Scotty Roberts was at the amazing 2016 Paradigm Symposium (you can listen to our recap of the entire event right here). It was kind of a life-changing experience for us as it was four days fully immersed in the paranormal and tackling everything from alternate history to alien coverups to the president of the Star Trek fan club to Travis Walton himself retelling his famous abduction experience. It still remains one of my all-time favorite strange weekends. Scotty was the driving force behind that conference when he announced that he was relaunching his YouTube channel with the various escapades from pontificating about family to exploring Egypt to his battle against political correctness, well we wanted to make sure to bring him on the show.

As the former Editor-In-Chief of The Atlantic Paranormal Society magazine (those are the Ghost Hunters from the SyFy Show) as well as the publisher of Intrepid, Scotty has plenty of paranormal bonafides. He’s written several books including The Exodus Reality: Unearthing the Real History of Moses, Identifying the Pharaohs, and Examining the Exodus from Egypt and The Secret History of the Reptilians. And as a former theological seminary student, you can rely on his work being fully saturated with history and research.

scotty roberts
Wendy and Allison hanging out with Scotty!

He even got Erich von Daniken from Chariots of the Gods? to write a blurb for one of his books. In my universe, that’s called makin’ it, baby.

In this episode we cover:

  • What made Scotty Roberts into the weirdo he is today!
  • Why he left the Baptist Seminary
  • Strange EVPs he recorded with Rocci Stucci and Dr. John Ward
  • Who does Scotty think is the historical Moses?
  • Scotty’s strange visions in Egypt with Phillip Coppens
  • What you can find on his YouTube channel

You can subscribe to Scotty Roberts’ Adventure Town Communiqué on YouTube right here.

scotty roberts
Mike partying with Scotty Roberts at Haunted America 2016

Now, one thing about Scotty is that he never shies away from an argument or a discussion. He’s willing to take on any topic and listen to every side of the story. That being said, he’s well-known for his conservative bent and isn’t afraid to share it. I’ve heard him say that “being offended a choice” and one that he chooses against so that he can engage in any kind of conversation. Scotty isn’t afraid to be the Devil’s Advocate and isn’t afraid to defend his position. This track is inspired by Scotty and dedicated to his willingness to rise to the challenge and be anyone’s debate partner (when you go from the seminary to writing about reptilians, you know you’re willing to make intellectual leaps!) Here is “Cry Wolf”.

Goddamn you love to be offended
goddamn I think you love to cry
you’re so addicted to your outrage
and you just love to roll your eyes roll your eyes

when the sky is finally falling
the Devil comes a calling
there’s no one left to cry wolf
there’s no one left to cry wolf

when we’re going down in flames
is there someone we’ll find to blame
there’s no one left to cry wolf
there’s no one left to cry wolf to

Oh man, I just can’t comprehend it
Oh man, I just keep wondering why
you’re so addicted to your outrage
and every word’s a hangin crime so hang me

when the sky is finally falling
the Devil comes a calling
there’s no one left to cry wolf
there’s no one left to cry wolf

when we’re going down in flames
is there someone we’ll find to blame
there’s no one left to cry wolf
there’s no one left to cry wolf to

204 – Thieves In The Night: Faeries, Aliens, and Child Abductions with Joshua Cutchin

When most people think of fairies, they think of Tinker Bell from Peter Pan. The idea of little supernatural creatures living in the forest has been co-opted by Lucky Charms and Santa Claus. They’re kind or helpful or merely mischievous. They’re cute. Remember the brownies from Willow? They were funny, and goofy. Fairies, elves, sprites, etc… they’re not terrifying anymore. In fact, there’s “fairy godmothers” who grant us the greatest wishes of our hearts’ desires. They’re fun and if they are real, they even play with children! Remember The Cottingley Fairies? Even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle believed in them, and he invented Sherlock Holmes so he must be smart!

cuttingly fairies joshua cutchin
The Cottingley Fairies

In fact, a hundred years after the pictures of “The Cottingley Fairies”, there are still people that believe in them, decades after one of the girls admitted it was all a hoax! In The Usual Suspects, there is a famous line:

“The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”

That’s a rephrasing of a famous quote by the French poet, Charles Baudelaire, but the idea here is the same. Fairies must have an incredible publicist, because  been in the public imagination, fairies are as real as the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It’s only a modern idea that fairies are harmless and fun little magical beasties that live in the forest and are just like “tiny little people with wings” that care about the environment.

Der Wechselbalg by Henry Fuseli, 1781 joshua Cutchin
Der Wechselbalg “The Changeling” by Henry Fuseli, 1781

But that’s pretty far from the original myths and legends of faerielore. In fact, one of the most enduring myths about the fae is the terrifying story of the “changeling” where faeries steal a human baby and leave a faerie child, an old fairy, or a deceased child in the baby’s place. You would know it was a changeling because the baby was constantly crying, or would not stop suckling at mother’s breast, or would eat voraciously and never be satisfied… in any case, the parents would just “know” that it was not the same child as went to bed the night before.

And there could be multiple reasons why faeries would steal a human baby, it could be that human mother’s milk makes faerie babies stronger, or to replace a troublesome faerie child, or sometimes even because faeries enjoyed human flesh. You might be able to get the changeling out and your baby back by something as innocuous as attempting to cook the family dinner inside a single eggshell (something that would shock the changeling into laughter and running away) or as insidious as holding the child over an open stove or an iron spade.

changeling pj lynch joshua cutchin
The Changeling by PJ Lynch, 2011

And when it comes to the human experience, that’s about as horrific as it gets. Our biological imperative is to reproduce and keeping that child alive is one of our most basic instincts. But before modern medicine, the infant mortality rate was exponentially higher. Droughts, starvation, and famine were much more common. If a child was sickly or a burden on the scarce resources of a peasant home, the drain on the family could be significant, it could be deadly.

In a superstitious world, the changeling real because how else do you explain it? What else can a birth defect or mental illness be but a supernatural curse when there is no scientific explanation yet? The changeling is a very human way of interacting with a very real trauma. It’s a dark road to go down, but when we talk about 4,500 cases of infanticide in Ireland between 1850 and 1900, it’s not just some strange ancient faceless past, it’s a real history with relatives that many of us can trace directly back to.

joshua cutchin
Joshua Cutchin – A man and his tuba

Fortean author Joshua Cutchin wrote the ground-breaking A Trojan Feast: The Food and Drink Offerings of Aliens, Faeries, and Sasquatch in 2015 to examine millennia of strange, cross-cultural paranormal food taboos. Following it up with The Brimstone Deceit: An In-Depth Examination of Supernatural Scents, Otherworldly Odors, and Monstrous Miasmas Joshua explored olfactory experiences reported during paranormal encounters. Josh is not only a painstaking researcher and gifted writer, but a fellow Badger (Wisconsin alumni, like Wendy and I) and a talented musician.

In this episode,  Joshua Cutchin joins us to talk about perhaps his most frightening work to-date, his new book, Thieves in the Night: A Brief History of Supernatural Child Abductions, which examines the disturbing history of paranormal kidnapping.

  • How fairy stories relate to demonic possession
  • Aliens abduction tales and fairies  – what’s the connection?
  • Changelings and autism in medieval times
  • The peculiar similarities across cultures of supernatural child abduction stories

Inspired by the idea of waking up to find someone that you care about isn’t someone you seem to recognize anymore, we revved up a  Sunspot rocker for you,  This is “The Changeling”!

Hot line
it’s a wake up call
for a lifeline
then you go awol
you know it’s time
before you fall
to put on the brakes or you’ll hit the wall

so low
on the bottom shelf
in a black hole
is where you’ll find yourself
where you gonna go
when there’s no one else
to put up with the shit that you’re trying to sell

And I don’t know if you looked lately
but you ain’t the same person that you used to be.
Whoa
you’re the changeling
Whoa
that just ain’t my thing
Whoa
you’re a changeling
And I don’t know if you looked lately
but you ain’t the same person that you used to be.

Go hard
until you hurt
play the wrong card
and you’re in the dirt
in the graveyard
calling red alert
you’re a cardiac arrest in a miniskirt

So long
that’s what you prefer
it’s a swan song
to who we thought you were
you’re so headstrong
so put on your spurs
and get the out of town until you find a cure.

And I don’t know if you looked lately
but you ain’t the same person that you used to be.
Whoa
you’re the changeling
Whoa
that just ain’t my thing
Whoa
you’re a changeling
And I don’t know if you looked lately
but you ain’t the same person that you used to be.

203 – Hunting Urban Legends: An Interview with Joshua Zeman

When you’re growing up, the world outside your home is a scary place. It’s full of drug addicts, gang members, child molesters, and serial killers. There’s a sicko with a cargo van hanging around outside your school. There’s a psycho with hook for a hand who preys on young lovers. There’s a weirdo who gets off on sneaking needles into your Halloween candy for a real Trick or Treat surprise.

Urban legends are lessons hidden in horror stories. They’re just “stranger danger” in narrative form. As a powerless child against the wicked world, you need to be warned about not getting into unknown vans, about being careful who you accept gifts from, and about not getting it on at Make-Out Point. These tales of the poor souls who didn’t heed these warnings make for a memorable reminder of what can happen when you stray too far from the path.

Growing up pre-Internet, there was no Snopes.com to check out the veracity of these stories. You could go to the library and meander through thousands of newspaper microfilms and microfiches (do they even teach kids how to use microfiche anymore?) to find out, but nobody was going to do that. You kind of just filed it in the back of your mind as a story meant to keep you from getting into trouble and it usually only entered your mind when you were wandering around in the woods or were rummaging through your Halloween candy.

I always knew that most urban legends contained a kernel of truth because my mother was a horror story specialist. Her cautionary tales about child murderers and bus stop rapists were ripped right from the headlines that her sharp memory wouldn’t let her forget. She could recall details from a newspaper article from a dozen years previous, especially if it was gruesome. When I was told a scary story as a warning, I knew that it wasn’t just a myth, there was something to it. And we lived near Milwaukee, so those serial killer legends weren’t just a rumor, we had Jeffrey Dahmer himself.

Joshua Zeman
Joshua Zeman, filmmaker and legend tripper

Joshua Zeman grew up in New York City’s Staten Island with the legend of “Cropsey”. Cropsey was a deranged mental patient who escaped the Willowbrook mental institution (the largest asylum in the United States at the time and notorious for its foul living conditions) and lived somewhere in the woods on the 375-acre facility. When a kid disappeared in Staten Island, it was Cropsey who was blamed for sneaking out of the forest and abducting the child. The tall tale even inspired two 80s slasher films, The Burning and Madman.

In the late 2000s, long fascinated with horror stories, he decided to make a documentary film about the legend of Cropsey. While doing so, he discovered the kernel of truth that birthed the legend and got rave reviews from Roger Ebert to The New York Times doing so. Cropsey‘s success led him to partner up with filmmaker Rachel Mills  on another film about exploring popular urban myths called Killer Legends where they tackle the murderer with the hook for a hand, poison Halloween candy, why clowns are scary, and the babysitter nightmare where “the call is coming from inside the house!”

I first saw Cropsey on Hulu a couple years back and I was hooked and devoured Killer Legends immediately after. He and Rachel followed that up with the true crime documentary The Killing Season which was an A&E series on the hunt for the Long Island Serial Killer. Our friend Scott Markus from WhatsYourGhostStory.com knew Josh so he hooked us up and I got to talk to him about his storytelling and his movies as we dive into these topics:

  • What is universal about urban legends across our culture
  • What is the purpose behind giving these nicknames to serial killers?
  • Why are we drawn to these horrific morality plays?
  • What’s the most surprising thing that Josh found in his research of urban legends across America?
  • What is the story behind the world’s loneliest creature, the 52-hertz whale?

Josh Zeman – Twitter

Cropsey – Facebook

Cropsey – On AMAZON

The Killing Season – On AMAZON

The Killing Season – On A&E

Killer Legends – On AMAZON

Killer Legends – ON NETFLIX

The song this week is inspired by Josh’s films, a tune that could work as a spooky soundtrack about finding the truth behind urban myths

Every story’s the same

no matter where you go to

It’s just the names that have  changed

but they can’t hide the truth

when you’re out playing games

deadly eyes are watching you

it’s the hook for a hand

that’ll skin you alive

it’s the white paneled van

beckoning you inside

Brutal is this land

where the innocent die

Every town has a secret
and every bridge has a troll
and every one among us
has a little stain on their soul

202 – Strange Angel: Fact Versus Fiction About Jack Parsons

If you don’t have the CBS streaming service (which you should get for at least the free trial week to binge watch Star Trek: Discovery anyway!) then you might have missed a new show that deals with someone who seems to have been written out of the history of the United States space program and even much paranormal folklore. But there’s not much you need to fictionalize about Jack Parsons’ incredible life in order for the new show Strange Angel to be a completely fascinating  story.

strange angel
Jack Raynor as Jack Parsons

Based on the 2006 book, Strange Angel: The Otherworldly Life of Rocket Scientist John Whiteside Parsons by George Pendle, it’s a dramatization of the renegade rocket scientist in 1930s California. A firm believer in the possibilities of rocketry at a time when most mainstream scientists believed that it was solely in the realm of science fiction, Parsons conducted amateur rocket experiments himself when the Great Depression caused him to have to leave college. He would go on to become one of the founders of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Today, JPL is part of NASA but it was formed over a decade before when the United States government finally understood the effectiveness of rockets after the Nazis bombarded the British with their V-2s during the Second World War.

The real Jack Parsons

But while Parsons contributions to the development of solid rocket fuel might have been a major scientific accomplishment, he’s also known for something a little more sinister. Indeed, Jack Parsons practiced Aleister Crowley-style sex magick in a  quest to create a Moonchild (named after Crowley’s 1917 book) that would be the human vessel for the Whore of Babylon, who would bring in destruction and rebirth to the world and bring about a new age of love and enlightenment. Yeah, he was pen pals with the Great Beast himself and lead the Los Angeles OTO temple as he practiced Thelemic magic.

Sounds like it might be a good premise for a TV show, eh?

In this episode Allison Jornlin from Milwaukee Ghosts and Scott Markus from What’sYourGhostStory.com join Wendy and I as we discuss Strange Angel and the real Jack Parsons. You’ll learn:

  • What the Strange Angel TV show gets right and wrong so far
  • What is Aleister Crowley’s Thelema?
  • What is a sigil and  how does it relate to magic?
  • How is ceremonial magic like rocket science?
  • What Iron Maiden song is related to Jack and Aleister
  • What does L. Ron Hubbard, sci-fi author and founder of Scientology, have to do with this?
  • Possible reasons that Jack may have been cursed later in life (paranormal and not so paranormal)
  • What are these weird places in Pasadena like nowadays?
  • Where to go for more information and further reading on Jack

One of the most interesting stories about Jack Parsons is how he, his second wife Marjorie Cameron, and L. Ron Hubbard used to perform a nightly magical ritual called the “Babalon Working” which was a series of ceremonies dedicated to manifesting Babalon’s presence so they could all get it on and impregnate Marjorie with the Moonchild. Jack even wrote a sequel to Aleister Crowley’s Book Of The Law which he said was dictated to him by Babalon herself.

Now there was a theory that Jack and Marjorie believed all that manifestation of Babalon led to bad luck for them in the end and I can believe it! While we were working on this week’s song, I lost my phone, my nice microphone stopped working, and while I was working on integrating quotes directly from Jack’s book that are spoken by Babalon, my Evernote wasn’t saving the notes and the lyrics weren’t recording. It’s probably all just a coincidence and of course, I’m trained to see patterns in these things (particularly after we spent a weekend talking ghost stories, spirit possessions, and more at the Haunted America 2018 conference in Alton, Illinois all weekend) but that doesn’t mean I can’t take a hint. We turned this one into just an instrumental with a guitar lead that will make you think of sex and rockets in the desert. We called it “Babalon Working”…

201 – Lost Over Lake Michigan: The Disappearance of NWA Flight 2501

On June 23rd, 1950 there were 55 passengers and 3 crew on North West Orient Airlines Flight 2501 flying from New York City to Seattle. It was scheduled to stop over in Minneapolis but air traffic control lost communication with the plane shortly after it left Michigan and the plane was never heard from again.

An oil slick was found a few miles from the coast and some “shredded wreckage” and human body parts eventually wound up washing to shore (enough to form a mass grave, even if the identities were never revealed), but nothing else of the plane was ever found. It was the worst aviation disaster in American history up to that point. There was a horrible thunderstorm that night over the lake and it was also a busy night for air traffic.

Could it have been lighting that hit the plane? Could they have flown too low to avoid traffic and crashed into the water? What happened? Valerie van Heest of the Michigan Shipwreck Research Association thinks she has some answers to why the plane went down, but without finding the rest of the plane, can never be sure.

Author Clive Cussler (the guy who wrote Sahara, which in my opinion is a fun underrated popcorn movie!) has formed the National Underwater and Marine Agency and has helped fund a yearly search for the past 15 years.

Matthew McConaughey getting ready to dive in himself and look for NWA Flight 2501

However, there’s more to this than meets the eye. Major Donald Keyhoe, one of the original flying saucer authors had claimed to have a government source that it might have been a UFO that the flight crashed into. Indeed, there were dozens of reports across the United States of UFOs that night. Allison from Milwaukee Ghosts has done lots of research on the paranormal possibilities here. As we reach the 68th anniversary and the search begins again, was the fuselage removed because there was something that we weren’t supposed to find? In this episode, we dig in deep.

And since we’re discussing one of Lake Michigan’s greatest disappearances, we thought we’d use a Sunspot song this week about one of our own great disappearances. In 2002, we played some shows with a band in San Antonio and Austin, Texas called Racketbox. They were all military guys  from Fort Hood in Killeen and played loud fun in-your-face punk rock. Anyway, their guitarist was mysteriously only known as Mr. Foff. That’s it. The only thing we could find on Racketbox was an incomplete Purevolume profile and even then it only listed a guitar player as Michael Jackson (and they said it was THE Michael Jackson, who was still alive in 2002).

From sharing Jack Daniels with him in his band van to seeing him rock out onstage, we never had a chance to learn his real name but we spent a lot of meaningful time with this Texas Wildman, even partying with him and his band members until the wee hours of the morning as 2002 passed into 2003 at some afterbar in Austin where it was impossible to find a cab and these were the days before GPS and Uber anyway. We went back to Wisconsin and in March the Iraq War started (on a night we were playing in Springfield, Illinois was when the Shock and Awe campaign began). Next time we went back to Texas was in May and we couldn’t find anything more on Racketbox or Mr. Foff. Four years later, we wrote a song about him on our album Neanderthal. 

Good night, Mr. Foff. Wherever you are.

Another night, 12 other $h!tt* bands,
Nothing to do, just sitting on our hands.

Then somebody new came into town,
He got us drunk, yeah, he turned the beat around.

And I’d like to know what happened to you Mr. Foff,
Did you leave the band? Do you still drink in the van?
And I’m happy to say I met you that day, Mr Foff,
Will we ever meet again?

Illustrated man, the ink on his skin tells the tale.
Teen runaway, he’s done some time in jail.

Even though the show was pretty lame,
He earned our respect, but we never knew his real name.

And I’d like to know what happened to you Mr. Foff,
Did you leave the band? Do you still drink in the van?
And I’m happy to say I met you that day, Mr Foff,
Will we ever meet again?

And I’d like to know what happened to you Mr. Foff,
Did you leave the band? Do you still drink in the van?
And I’m happy to say I met you that day, Mr Foff,
Will we ever meet again?

(What happened to you, Mr. Foff?)
I’d like to know what happened to you, Mr. Foff.
I’m so glad we met that day, Mr. Foff.
With that long black hair and that bada$$ leather jacket,
You’re my man,
You’re my man,
You’re my man with Jack in the van,
Mr. Foff.

200 – When The Going Gets Weird: Our First 199 Paranormal Adventures

199 episodes of See You On The Other Side. 118 new songs specifically written for the show.  102 interviews. We’ve come a long way, baby. We thought it was time to sit down and talk about some of our favorite moments from the past three and a half years of podcasting into the paranormal

Allison from Milwaukee Ghosts joins Wendy Lynn and I as we talk about the things that have affected us the most after our first 199 podcasts.

  • What’s been the biggest surprise?
  • What were our favorite interviews??
  • How have our own views on the paranormal changed?
  • What were our favorite paranormal events and conventions?

You can relive some of our favorite episodes that we reference in the podcast here:

The song this week is based on that classic Hunter S. Thompson quote, “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” Now of course the father of gonzo journalism meant a lot of different things with that statement, but I take it to mean that when you enter an unknown situation, somewhere without precedent or pre-established rules… that’s where you can make your mark. That’s the inspiration behind our podcast as well. Here’s Sunspot with “When The Going Gets Weird”.

It’s the moment it all changes
it’s a vision for the blind
a shattering and staggering
cracking open your mind
Take the red pill and go deeper
inexorability
cross the line in the sand
for  a fait accompli
Break the kettles, sink the boats
at the bridges that you burn
And when the die is cast
you’re at the point of no return.
When the going gets weird
When the going gets weird
When the going gets weird
When the going gets weird
So you’re not like everyone else
in case of boredom break the glass
you’ll find you’re no longer welcome
to the place that you’re never going back
Take the red pill and go deeper
inexorability
cross the line in the sand
to find a fait accompli
Break the kettles, sink the boats
at the bridges that you burn
And when the die is cast
you’re at the point of no return.
When the going gets weird
When the going gets weird
When the going gets weird
When the going gets weird