Category Archives: Podcast

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

zanzibar leopard martin walsh
A stuffed version of the Zanzibar Leopard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

dr martin walsh zanzibar leopard
Dr. Martin Walsh

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

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

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

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

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

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

Imaginary Animals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

167 – Paranormal Pumpkin: Billy Corgan and the Shapeshifters

When Billy Corgan from The Smashing Pumpkins was on the Howard Stern show promoting his new album, Ogilala, Howard and Robin were grilling him on his relationship with everyone’s favorite radio host/internet conspiracist, Alex Jones. Corgan (who now goes by his full name, William Patrick Corgan) has been on Infowars three times.

Billy Corgan – Infowars Interview #1 Trend On Facebook

So, Howard asks Billy about the reptilians as a joke and Billy Corgan proceeds to see that he’s seen a shapeshifter. Oh yeah! You can hear some of the interview at this link, but he doesn’t get too detailed because he said he fears for his career and the lives of his loved ones. He is still freaked out about the whole thing

billy corona shapeshifting
Billy Corgan rocking!

We talk about everything we can find on Billy and the reptilian shapeshifters, and also other paranormal experiences that he’s reported. He’s always been a sensitive guy and has had his eye on the spiritual and we go over some more of his conspiratorial ideas, craziest moments, fights with Courtney Love, the ghost of David Bowie, and more. You’ve got to expect some paranormal business from the man who starts one of his most famous songs with the line, “The world is a vampire”…

Wendy and I were always huge fans of The Smashing Pumpkins, so it was fun to relive some of our favorite musical moments from the 90s and if you’ve never heard the band before, this little ditty from Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, might be their most paranormal track (lyrically at least). It’s called “We Only Come Out At Night”.

So The Smashing Pumpkins recorded two of their albums with Butch Vig, one of the greatest producers of the alternative rock generation. They recorded the entirety of their debut album, Gish, at Smart Studios right here in Madison, Wisconsin.  When we recorded at Smart in 2001, we tried to get all the stories of our favorite bands, including The Smashing Pumpkins. There was a particular effect in the studio that they called “The Pumpkinizer” that helped get the Pumpkins their distinct hard rocking guitar sound. We tried to find a way to “Pumpkinize” our tracks a little bit when we recorded this track. This was the track we used to close our Sunspot sets for years, it’s called “Summer Day”.

The purposelessness of a summer day,
well I don’t know where the road will lead me next,
I asked my old man what will become of me and he said,
“Nothing is all you do and it’s all you’ll ever be.”

It might make you sad that this is my home,
it might seem too bad that this is all I know.

A purposelessness for a summer day,
nothing is all I do and it’s all I have to be.
It’s all I’ll be…

A driftless waste of space,
another welfare case,
you can’t make me grow up.
I won’t waste my time,
on your assembly line,
you can’t make me grow up.

A lazy lawn chair and an ice cold drink,
why on earth would I ever want to change?
Ambition falls away as I drift to sleep,
this moment’s gone but it was mine to keep.

It might make you sad that this is my home,
you’re just like my dad what do you know?

The purposelessness of a summer day,
nothing is all I do and it’s all I have to be.
It’s all I’ll be…

A driftless waste of space,
another welfare case,
you can’t make me grow up.
I won’t waste my time,
on your assembly line,
you can’t make me grow up.

It might make you sad that this is my home,
you’re just like my dad what do you know?

The purposelessness of a summer day,
nothing is all I do and it’s all I have to be.
It’s all I’ll be…

A driftless waste of space,
another welfare case,
you can’t make me grow up.
I won’t waste my time,
on your assembly line,
you can’t make me grow up.

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.