Category Archives: Podcast

145 – Twin Peaks: The Paranormal Influence Underneath TV’s Weirdest Show

In April of 1990, I was 13 years old. I remember very well watching the debut of the pilot of Twin Peaks on that Sunday night (along with 35 million other people) and I didn’t miss an episode after that. I loved the quirky characters, the murder mystery, and the weird dreams, but most of all, I enjoyed spending time in a place where magic was real, ancient demons stalked the Earth, logs could send psychic messages, and we could visit other dimensions in our dreams. My father and I were diehards who watched until the bitter end, upset about the cliffhangers that it left dangling at the second season’s conclusion.

twin-peaks

I went into Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me thinking that we’d get a resolution, excited to find out what happened the fate of Audrey from the bank explosion and Cooper in the Black Lodge. I didn’t really care what happened to James, because well, James’ weird love triangle shenanigans were boring by the end of the second season. The movie was all the weirdness of the TV show with little of the comedy and the sex and violence amped up. While I didn’t get the answers I craved, I loved going back into that world.

After the movie failed at the box office and David Lynch seemed to be bitter, I figured that was it. The bad guys won, Laura Palmer’s soul was trapped in the Red Room, and no one would ever know why David Bowie showed up as a ghost or what Jacques Renault meant when he called himself “The Great Went”. I figured it would just be a wonderful bit of nostalgia when I think about junior high. It was my favorite show at the time we were starting our rock band, when I was growing my hair long for the first time, and when I was hitting adolescence head on.

So, I was surprised as everyone else when the revival was announced. I couldn’t wait to go back. I thought that the closest thing we ever were going to get toa  reunion was when Big Ed and Nadine runiting as the bad guys in The People Under The Stairs.

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I’m the kind of fan who falls in love the mythology of a fictional universe. My favorite X-Files episodes weren’t the funny standalones, I wanted to know about the alien invasion conspiracy. I cared about the Dharma Initiative in LOST and cared about the answers they promised us. I want to know the history of the conflict between the Klingons and the Federation, I want to lose myself in the universe.

I knew that David Lynch was weird and I was down with that, but it took me until Lost Highway to appreciate his dream logic and to no longer care about coherence in the narrative (and trust me, if you’ve seen any of the Twin Peaks revival, you’ll quickly understand that coherence is the first thing out the window.) But in Twin Peaks, the story isn’t as important as the feeling you get when you hang out there. Sure, the quirky characters are fun and their obssession with coffee, apple pie, and smoking (really, that was probably the last major network series where half the characters unapologetically smoke cigarettes), but it was the world they lived in where you just wanted to spend more time.

The show was artistically fearless years before our current Golden Age of TV, it could be hilarious when it wanted to be, tedious and awkward when it wanted, the camera shots alone could evoke fear and dread, but also intense beauty and high strangeness. There’s a scene in Fire Walk With Me that is easily the top three most terrifying things I’ve ever seen in a visual work. Twin Peaks made me feel things like nothing else I’d ever seen on TV.  And that’s why I love going back.

While nominally a murder mystery and a soap opera parody and a meditation on how Small Town America is often hiding a seedy dark and corrupt underbelly, Twin Peaks is also a cornucopia of otherworldly influences. In this discussion, we try to hit as many as we can and how the real-life paranormal tales  impacted the story of TV’s weirdest show.

While we finish the episode with a little musical homage to Angelo Badlamenti’s incredible Twin Peaks soundtrack, we kicked off the show with discussing the untimely death of Chris Cornell who was certainly a huge influence on our generation. I had first heard Soundgarden’s “Loud Love” in 1990 around the same time I was watching Twin Peaks and of course became a huge fan with Badmotorfinger (in fact, I can’t say how often I’ve thought on a particularly rough hangover day that “I’m looking California and feeling Minnesota”.) We talk a bit about Cornell’s amazing voice, but also how eerie it was that Soundgarden covered Led Zeppelin’s “In My Time Of Dying” (which itself was Zep’s attempt at updating an old Gospel song) at their last show before the singer tragically took his own life.

144 – The Secrets of Fatima: 100 Years of a Marian Mystery

On May 13th, 1917 three children from a small village in Portugal claimed to have an apparition of the Virgin Mary appear before them. They claimed that the Blessed Virgin revealed three secrets to them that they could reveal to no one, and in fact the Third Secret could not even be released until 1960 and not to anyone but the Pope himself. They weren’t believed in the beginning and the children were even temporarily jailed (and it’s claimed the local law enforcement even threatened to boil them in oil unless they told the truth!) But in the end, thousands of people witnessed a solar miracle in Fatima, Portugal and the children’s visions would have a big impact on the Catholic Church in the Twentieth Century.

Our Lady of Fatima Children
The children behind Our Lady of Fatima

“Marian Apparitions” or visions of the Virgin Mary were pretty popular the end of the Nineteenth Century. The Church investigated many of them and determined a few “worthy of belief” (including one near Green Bay, Wisconsin, so we have our own Our Lady of Perpetual Packers Victory!) “Worthy of belief” means that they think that there’s  something to the vision, but as a Catholic you’re not required to believe it (like you are required to believe that Mary was a virgin and that Jesus is the Son of God and not just a wise carpenter who was endlessly quotable.)

Our Lady of Fatima appearing to the children
Our Lady of Fatima appearing to the children

The First Secret of Fatima was a vision of Hell that Mary showed the three childern. The Second Secret of Fatima had to do with the end of World War I and the prediction that another great war would come shortly after if Russia didn’t start turning back to religion from atheism. Those secrets came out in the 1940s when Sister Lucia (the only surviving child who originally was contacted by Our Lady of Fatima, she eventually became a nun) was forced by her bishop to share the secrets in case she got ill.

The Third Secret of Fatima was kept under lock and key until 1960 when the Pop was allowed to read it. It was said that the Pope cried when he read the secret and that was enough to freak everyone out. Was it the end of the world that he saw? This was a generation of schoolchildren who were growing up with nuclear war safety drills and people building underground bunkers in their backyards. Did the Pope see the end of the world by man’s own hand?

These secrets became of such fascination to Catholics, that in 1981 a former Trappist monk decided to hijack an Aer Lingus plane and demand that the Pope release the Third Secret of Fatima.

Totally sweet painting of the Third Secret of Fatima
Totally sweet painting of the Third Secret of Fatima

 

When the Third Secret of Fatima was finally revealed, it turned out to be kind of boring. It was a vision of the Pope being murdered by gunman and when the Vatican revealed it in the year 2000 (with a treatise written by the future Pope Benedict himself, Cardinal Ratzinger) it was really just about the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II in 1981, so “Hey, no big deal everybody, on this thing we’ve been hiding for damn near a century.”

That really hasn’t been good enough for some people, who think that the secret actually revealed that there would be a Pope who leads the church into ruin, a so-called “Anti-Pope” and there are people who believe that “Cool Pope” Francis is one. Even though he was in Fatima on the 100th anniversary to canonize the original children and declare their Catholic Sainthood, his detractors say that his liberal and easygoing attitude is going to lead the Church straight to the Fires of Hell.

fatima ghost anti pope
The dude from the band Ghost is the only true Anti-Pope!

Well, whether that’s true or not, there’s a different interesting theory that the people of Fatima actually saw a UFO on that strange day they saw “The Miracle of the Sun”. No less than UFO expert  has posited that theory himself.

But a more sobering and sinister theory is that the Catholic Church was using these Marian Apparitions to influence world events, that Sister Lucia writing in 1941 that the Soviet Union must be consecrated back the Immaculate Heart of Mary and away from Atheism or the entire world would crumble was justification for the Nazi Invasion of Germany. The Church’s reputation during the Holocaust and the Second World War is often brought up as one of its less proud moments (the Vatican was completely surrounded by Fascist Italy, so there could be a good reason that they remained neutral, but still it’s an unfortunate history of silence.)

100 years later, Our Lady of Fatima still intrigues and mystifies people. But whether or not their claims were true, those three Portuguese shepherd children did something amazing, they changed the world with their story and affected millions of lives. The Sunspot song this week is in that same spirit, it’s called “Change The World”.

Did you read the news today,
did you listen to what it said?
It said our world was going to Hell,
and soon we’ll all be dead.
Don’t tell me about your apathy,
Don’t tell me you don’t wanna believe,
Don’t tell me that it’s not your problem,
Can’t you see… you’re not alone?

I want to change the world.
But I can’t do it by myself,
I need somebody else.

Wandering in the dark,
we’ve been living with blindfolds on.
Just thinking about ourselves for too damn long.
Don’t tell me that you don’t care,
Don’t tell me that the world’s not fair,
Don’t tell me there’s nothing you can do to help at all.
That’s no excuse.

I want to change the world.
But I can’t do it by myself.
I need somebody else.

143 – Punk Rock and UFOs: An Interview with Mike Damante

Journalist and author Mike Damante took a left turn from covering mainstream entertainment and sports news in Houston to chronicling the weird world of the paranormal in his blog, Punk Rock and UFOs

mike damante punk rock and ufos
Mike Damante throwing up the horns!

With a lifelong passion for the music of punk rock and an interest in the weird, Mike Damante decided to take the attitude of punk music and apply it to the investigation of the unknown. While punk music can often have paranormal themes (just look at any song by the Misfits or a multitude of classic Vandals tracks), it’s the approach that punk music took to the status quo of the 1970s that Mike Damante is looking to emulate.

In the 70s, the music industry was all cocaine and big money, exemplified by the slick  sounds of Disco and the costumed denizens of Studio 54. Punk Rock was the antithesis of the laid-back California Pop-Rock sound of the Eagles. It was loud angry music created by dirty musicians in dingy clubs. It was piercings instead of glitter, mohawks instead of long flowing manes. It was the sound of a people left behind by a bloated hedonist beauty-worshipping culture and punk was their rallying cry of smashing that system.

That’s the attitude of Mike’s book and writing, Punk Rock and UFOs: Cryptozoology Meets Anarchy, is about questioning everything that you think you know when it comes to the world, especially the paranormal one.

Of course we talk about the most famous former punk rocker turned  UFO evangelist, Blink-182’s Tom Delonge who was featured in the news during the 2016 presidential election when his emails to fellow alien enthusiast John Podesta were leaked to the world, but we also go into other punk rock legends from Milo Aukerman from Descendents to Bad Religion’s Greg Gaffin. It’s a good mix of rock stories with paranormal tales and conversation.

If you’re interested in Mike’s book, you can grab it on Amazon right here. And make sure to follow Mike Damante on Twitter by clicking this link.

The song this week started off as a punk idea and ended up sounding like an adult contemporary song, ha! But sometimes when we’re writing, we just have to go where the Muse takes us. It’s an earnest track about looking back on a youth filled with paranormal adventure and all the memories and mistakes that come along with it. The track is called “Stories In The Dark”.

When we walked among the headstones,
On that August New Moon night,
That marble might have been cold,
But we raised the Fahrenheit.
And a summer is forever with,
not many on your belt,
But you know when the hurtin’ hits,
Yeah, the hurtin’ hits like Hell.
And you know when the hurtin’ hits,
Yeah, The hurtin’ hits like Hell.

There’s no point in saying sorry
For these twenty years gone past
No statute of limitations for
Acting like a jackass.
Time is always the best healer
Distance makes things much more clear
Even picking at a scab feels good,
Just in the rearview mirror.

These ghost stories in the dark
Oh my dear you were always game
Stronger than I gave you credit for
But crazy just the same
Tall tales that we tell ourselves
Do their damnedest to dull the pain
And you know every broken heart
Comes with a story
Best told in the dark
Comes with a story
Best told in the dark

Mystery by every corner,
Didn’t matter what we saw,
It wasn’t what we got that made you hot,
It was the quest that burned us raw.

Being on a pedestal just
ain’t easy as it would seem.
Well the young should never handle
Something fragile as a dream
I said the young should never handle
Something fragile as a dream

There’s no point in saying sorry
For these twenty years gone past
No statute of limitations for
Acting like a jackass.

Time is always the best healer
Distance makes things much more clear
Even picking at the scab feels good,
Just in the rearview mirror.

These ghost stories in the dark
Oh my dear you were always game
Stronger than I gave you credit for
But crazy just the same
Tall tales that we tell ourselves
Do their damnedest to dull the pain
And you know every broken heart
Comes with a story
Best told in the dark
Comes with a story
Best told in the dark

142 – Guardians of the Galaxy: Supernatural Stories of the Cast and Crew

Guardians of the Galaxy was one of 2014’s biggest surprises. A fun cosmic romp set in a part of the Marvel Universe that I didn’t even know existed, it was a breakthrough for everyone involved. Lead actor Chris Pratt established himself as an A-list star that could topline a movie, James Gunn was finally given the budget he needed to make his wild fantasies come true, and a team of intergalactic misfits that few moviegoers had heard of ended up besting the tried and true Captain America at the box office. It captured that old Star Wars spirit of swashbuckling sci-fi imagination.

Three years later, the sequel has arrived and is coming out in the U.S. Friday May 5th. A big ensemble movie like this has a huge cast and we picked some of our favorite paranormal stories where we could find them to talk about this week.

This was the big one that came out this week, Kurt Russell, who’s on the press tour for Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and plays Peter Quill/Star-Lord’s father in the movie (a character hinted at in the first film) was the pilot who reported The Phoenix Lights. Yeah? Snake Plissken himself is the pilot that was flying into Phoenix and reported the lights to the air traffic controllers for the first time.

Interestingly enough, it’s not the lights that made him question his sanity. It was the fact that he didn’t remember it or think about it again until some years later when his longtime companion Goldie Hawn was watching a TV show that mentioned The Phoenix Lights. Alien abductions are almost always reported with amnesia, could the aliens have made Kurt “forget” about what he saw in a subtle way, where he only even thinks about it when he’s directly confronted by what he saw years later? It’s a cool and almost unbelievable story.

Vin Diesel (the voice behind “I Am Groot”)’s ghost story is a little sadder, The National Enquirer posted that he saw his friend, Paul Walker’s, ghost on the set of the latest Fast and the Furious film.

Writer and director James Gunn has a great blogpost about infiltrating the Raëlien UFO cult Happiness Seminar in Las Vegas and how it really seemed more like it was about people trying to get laid, and it makes me sad that another science fiction cult just ends up being obsessed with sex.

Karen Gillan, plays the evil Nebula and in an old Doctor Who Confidential, she admits that she was obsessed with paranormal stuff when she was younger and even had a weird experience in high school. They go for a little ghost tour while they were filming the episode “The Rebel Flesh” in Wales and learn the ghost story of the Green Lady of Caerphilly Castle.

Michael Rooker alway seems game for a good time in a genre picture whether he’s the the blue skinned mohawked guy with the whistling arrows Yondu in Guardians of the Galaxy or the wicked redneck Merle in The Walking Dead or the deeply disturbing lead in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, he’s a horror and fantasy favorite!

Rooker even directed a horror movie in the Pennhurst Asylum (originally called the Eastern Pennsylvania Institution for the Feeble-Minded and Epileptic)! It has several names (the mark of a great movie, yikes!) but it’s known as Pennhurst, Asylum of the Dead, or The Lost Episode depending on where you’re looking for it. Of course, old asylums definitely have a creepy vibe to them and our former guest Christopher Saint Booth also had strange paranormal experiences while filming his filming Death Tunnel at Waverly Hills Sanitarium.

Of course, Pennhurst has haunted stories of its own and actress Beverly Mitchell had her own experience in the old asylum when she was filming the movie and she tells the whole story in Celebrity Ghost Stories. (You’re not in 7th Heaven anymore Beverly!)

While that story might have been very earnest, the ones about Sylvester Stallone (who has a cameo in the new Guardians film as well!)  are of a little more of a questionable veracity. For some reason, you can find an article about how he was haunted by his son who tragically died in 2012 and needed to get an Indian spiritual cleaning, which feels like some kind of exploitative fake news.

While that’s a little sad, this next one is just ridiculous (yes, even more ridiculous than this silly Snapchat video about Chris Pratt’s haunted toilet in a Manhattan hotel room.) Sly’s mother, Jackie Stallone, turned being a celebrity mom into an industry by having her own psychic hotline in the 1990s, but you might not believe this 2010 article from Week In Weird, about something called Rumpology where she will tell you your future by looking at a picture of your butt.  

That’s right, she’ll tell you your future for $125 by looking at your butt. For that alone, this is an episode you probably want to download and listen to immediately.

One thing that really stood out about Guardians of the Galaxy was Peter’s classic rock “Awesome Mixtape Vol. 1”, so for this week we thought it would be perfect to play our own goofy Classic Rock-inspired anthem, “Turn On The Hi-Fi”.

The below video is a live version of the song from a Milwaukee show, but the live version in the actual podcast is from  January 2015 where our friend Jim Chiello from Power of Sound was the engineer and mixed our set and then worked hard on our performances to make an awesome live recording for us!

Strap on any old guitar and crank that thing up until your ears bleed, you just need,
That bass drum in your soul, it don’t matter if you look like an @#$hole, your body’s freed.

You’re dancing with the devil, man,
Record needles full of adrenaline.
I got the spirit, Can I get an amen?
There’s nothing like turning it up to ten.

Oh oh oh, Oh oh oh,
Nothing wrong that I see, so
Turn on the hi-fi, baby.
Oh oh oh, Oh oh oh,
Let’s make the jump to light speed,
Turn on the hi-fi, baby.

Whip it out and let it rip, hold on tight you’re on the rocket ship, it’s a trip,
to blast off with the sound, and jump up like you’ll never hit the ground, let’s get blitzed.

And dance with the devil, man.
Shoot me up full of adrenaline.
I got the spirit, Can I get an amen?
Feels so good, it’s gotta be a sin.

Oh oh oh, Oh oh oh,
Nothing wrong that I see, so
Turn on the hi-fi, baby.
Oh oh oh, Oh oh oh,
Let’s make the jump to light speed,
Turn on the hi-fi, baby.

Turn it on!

141 – The World of Wicca: Selena Fox and The Witches of Circle Sanctuary

With Beltane (May Day) on the horizon, we thought it was the perfect time to interview Wisconsin’s favorite Witch, Selena Fox. Selena is a Wiccan priestess who has been performing public Pagan rituals  since the early 1970s and she is the leader of the Circle Sanctuary Nature Preserve in southwest Wisconsin (geologically known as the Driftless Region).

selena fox circle sanctuary
Selena leads a ceremony as you can see Allison watching on

Selena’s work on providing support for the Pagan and Wiccan religious community in the United States has been recognized in TIME and People magazines and the Circle Sanctuary Nature Preserve holds public events for the 8 big Earth-based religious holidays. For this episode we concentrate on Beltane, where one of the parts of the celebration is the famous Maypole!

Earth-based religions like Wicca are all about getting back in touch with nature. They connect with their spirituality by connecting with the outdoors. They find their power in the relationship between all things, everything has a spirit from the trees to the rocks to the water to the animals and as such, we can find commonalities with those spirits and each other. Their universe is much more than a single God watching over us, it’s an ecosystem, a greater whole of energy and spirit that are bodies and souls are part of.

selena fox circle sanctuary beltane

One of the best parts of this episode is dispelling the myths that surround Wicca and Paganism. Because the god Pan features in plenty of Pagan imagery (you know, the flautist with the horns and the goat legs) and early Christians decided to use Pan to represent the Christian Devil, when you grow up with mainstream religions the ideas you get about paganism are from The 700 Club and the Tom Hanks Dan Aykroyd classic, Dragnet (and you should stop whatever you’re doing and watch the music video below, you will not be disappointed!)

Dispelling myths is also what this week’s song is about. We already talked about Walpurgisnacht in our Devil’s Night episode, but that’s the night before May Day where the witches were supposed to meet up in the German mountains and plot their wicked deeds for the year. Well, in this song, someone stumbles upon the witches’ gathering but realizes that it’s not wicked, they’re just having fun and like everybody, happy that Winter is over!

Click on these links if you’re like to learn more about  Selena Fox on Facebook or visit the official Circle Sanctuary calendar to see when the next public event is where you can join in the fun.

What did I see out behind the mountains
What did you see when you looked at the full moon?
Was it demon wings and hellfire in the sky
Did you see the witches flying for our doom?

The Devil’s whores are waiting for their master
Spring time is here and evil’s coming after

Walpurgisnacht
Is the night where Satan spreads his seed
Walpurgisnacht
Is the night that challenged my beliefs
Walpurgisnacht

They danced around the Maypole,
The earth made love to the sky
I waited and I prayed for mercy,
But old Scratch never arrived.

So what were we afraid of,
What was the magic spell?
Where was all the the temptation
That would lead me right to Hell?

So i guess that they’re not wicked,
I was scared of the wrong stuff,
They’re just happy that Winters’s over
And want to party in the buff!

Walpurgisnacht
Is the night where we pray for our seed
Walpurgisnacht
Is the night that we renew our beliefs
Walpurgisnacht

140 – The Phoenix Lights: Revisiting The Most Famous UFO Sighting In The World

With the new film, The Phoenix Forgotten coming out this weekend, we thought it was the right time to reconsider The Phoenix Lights. On March 13th, 1997, an estimated ten thousand people saw a UFO over the Phoenix skyline.

The new movie is a found-footage Blair Witch-style film produced by sci-fi movie favorite, Ridley Scott, that takes the plot of three teenagers who were witnesses to the phenomenon, go out in the mountains to investigate it, and then disappear. The idea is that they bring along a video camera (no camera phones or YouTube in 1997!) and the videotape is later discovered.

So, cool premise for a film, but what did people actually see on that Thursday night in 1997? Well, the original sighting began in Henderson, Nevada, a town right outside Las Vegas. That report was of a V-shaped object that had six lights at the leading edge and it was traveling southeast. It was then reported in several towns between Henderson and Phoenix, with Phoenix being the place where it was reported the most.

Also, people were reporting two different kinds of events as well. One was the boomerang type spacecraft that would eventually be what the Phoenix Lights is most known for. They said that it blocked out the stars as it passed overhead, with some people claiming that it was nearly a mile across (while the original Henderson, Nevada sighting claimed to only be the size of 747.) These were primarily reported in Prescott, Arizona but no known footage was taken of it there. Later in June of that year, *USA Today *would run a photo on its front page reporting the story, and that computer-generated recreation of the sighting would become the most famous image associated with the phenomenon.

phoenix lights

The second event was a set of nine lights that appeared to hover over the city at 10pm and that’s what’s been covered the most because of the famous video footage that was taken that night. The lights seemed to disappear behind a mountain range and no explanation was given.

The governor of Arizona, Fife Symington III, even talked about the lights in a press conference not too long after. He said that they “found the culprit” and brought out a cabinet member in an alien costume as a joke. The authorities didn’t treat it seriously, even while thousands of people reported the sighting and the story ended up being picked up by the national news networks in July, after the USA Today story ran.

phoenix lights

The lack of immediate response from the government allowed for people to start speculating themselves and Dr. Lynne Katei has become the most famous investigator into the phenomenon. She connects it to earlier UFO sightings in the area as well as a missing time experience that she had with her husband and wrote a book and released a documentary on the Phoenix Lights.

Since the initial sightings, debunkers have claimed that the first event was merely the Maryland Air National Guard in the are running winter exercises, and the second was the flares that they dropped as part of those exercises. Who knows why they decided not to tell everyone at the time? Since air traffic control records are usually cleared every two weeks if there’s no incident, there’s no hard copy to verify the claim. Only the word of government sources. But the lights were on the news that night, why did they wait?

Governor Fife Symington III, who originally made fun of the event in 1997, has an explanation. He didn’t want to panic the fine people of Arizona and he was afraid if they took the event too seriously, that’s what would have happened. In fact, he now claims that he saw the boomerang shaped UFO over Phoenix that night as well and that the investigation should be re-opened. He even called it “otherworldly”, so why did he change his tune ten years later?

There hasn’t been an explanation yet that satisfied all the people who witnessed The Phoenix Lights, so the mystery endures twenty years later.

On a related entertainment note, a different found footage movie about the Phoenix Lights called The Phoenix Incident came out in 2015 and they tried a different kind of marketing campaign than The Phoenix Forgotten. While I think the marketing at SXSW this year where they recreated The Phoenix Lights with drones over Austin was awesome, The Phoenix Incident tried using viral marketing in a more nefarious way.

Number one, they did an anonymous report to MUFON of a 60-year old man who claims to have seen an alien the night of the lights. This was later picked up by Cryptozoology News and reported on as a news story as well as someone reading the report into YouTube over footage from the real Phoenix Lights. Then, the director of the film does interviews claiming that his film is telling the truth with tying into a “missing persons” case from that night. They try to tie the false missing persons case to the Heaven’s Gate cult as well to further exploit the “real-life connections”.

It’s a pretty clever way to get attention for your film, but at the same time it’s damaging to the field of UFOlogy (just take this forum post from Above Top Secret for proof of people missing the fictional aspect of it) and it’s another case where they’re capitalizing on innocent people’s beliefs and natural curiosity in an event witnessed by thousands, just so that they can try to sell more tickets (I have this same issue with Tom DeLonge’s book, Sekret Machines saying that it’s fact masquerading as fiction.)

When you’re dealing with the paranormal, the lines between reality and fantasy are already blurred and mixing them further to make a little money might be good marketing but it’s bad humanity. Whether you believe in extraterrestrials or not, any time you mess with the truth for personal gain fouls it up for the rest of us.

This week’s Sunspot track takes a different tack on what the UFO was doing flying over Phoenix. Unlike The Phoenix Forgotten or The Phoenix Incident, maybe these aliens just came to Las Vegas to have a good time on a little St. Patrick’s getaway, partied too hard (because that can happen to anyone in that town), and got lost on the way home. Just saying that maybe they didn’t mean any harm, they just don’t get the same kind of fun on their homeworld. Anyway, take a listen to “The Ballad of The Phoenix Lights”.

They came down to Sin City,
For a St. Patty’s Day party
But things were far from pretty,
they started drinking too early.

They hailed from a world that was dry,
a real cosmic bore.
These boys just wanted to get high,
and maybe even score.

So they hid their ship and hit the strip,
didn’t miss a casino,
And they left a trail of wreckage
from the Luxor to the Flamingo.

When the aliens finally showed up,
they did not come to destroy,
No hellfire blaze or cosmic rays,
they came to here to enjoy
the good life that they couldn’t get
on a world beyond the black,
These spacemen just like to party,
are we gonna send them back?

Their foreign livers couldn’t process,
All the booze they did consume,
and the MIBs said they had to leave,
before they trashed their hotel room.

They stumbled back to their ship
grabbed the wheel with one eye closed,
But they took off way too fast,
and then got lost on the way home.

They thought they set the course for their world
and went southeast instead,
the driver said that he was fine,
but he was messed out of his head.

When the aliens finally showed up,
they did not come to destroy,
No hellfire blaze or cosmic rays,
they came to here to enjoy
the good life that they couldn’t get
on a world beyond the black,
These spacemen just like to party,
are we gonna send them back?

When they finally got to Phoenix,
well, it made quite a scene,
Ten thousand people saw their lights,
they knew it couldn’t be a dream.

Mericopa County had a Sheriff Joe
he saw the craft with his own eyes,
he knew he had to pull them down
Intergalactic DUI.

He tracked them down by the mountain range,
And they didn’t try to run,
‘License and registration’ he said
’You boys have had your fun.

You see this rock ain’t for aliens,
specially trouble like y’all,
This planet’s for humans only
I’m gonna kick you off our ball.’

When the aliens finally showed up,
they did not come to destroy,
No hellfire blaze or cosmic rays,
they came to here to enjoy
the good life that they couldn’t get
on a world beyond the black,
These spacemen just like to party,
are we gonna send them back?

The driver cried almond eye tears,
and Joe felt a touch of mercy,
Maybe I shouldn’t be so tough,
Maybe these things are just like me.

So he didn’t blast them back to space,
So they didn’t have to run.
And now they’re being poked and prodded,
in Area 51!

When the aliens finally showed up,
they did not come to destroy,
No hellfire blaze or cosmic rays,
they came to here to enjoy
the good life that they couldn’t get
on a world beyond the black,
These spacemen just like to party,
Now they’re never going back
These spacemen just wanted better,
now they’re never going back.
They just wanted a better life,
and they’re never going back!

139 – Field of Screams: Talking Haunted Baseball with Dan Gordon

While the season officially begins after the Vernal Equinox (the day in March when it’s exactly 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark), a lot of people don’t consider it really Springtime until Opening Day of baseball season. Growing up in the Milwaukee suburbs in the 80s, going to Brewers Opening Day was even considered an excusable absence. While my interest in the National Pastime and burning desire to be a professional baseball player burned out along the Brewers’ dashed hopes of the 1982 World Series, I am thoroughly interested in learning more about its superstitions and ghost stories. As the co-author of both Haunted Baseball and Field of Screams (along with his close friend and baseball aficionado, Mickey Bradley), Dan Gordon is the man to talk to when it comes to baseball and weirdness.

Dan Gordon and Mickey Bradley Haunted Baseball
Dan (left) and Mickey (right) hanging out in the bleachers

While most of my previous knowledge of haunted baseball came from the episode of Real Ghostbusters where Winston becomes part of the game between the forces of Good and Evil (“Night Game”, which is one of the series’ best episodes), the rich history of the sport and its spotlight in the national consciousness since at least the beginning of the Twentieth Century has filled its supernatural coffers with plenty of legends and ghost stories.

haunted baseball winston real ghostbusters night game
How did the hat and jacket stay on Slimer when he’s made out of only ectoplasm?

Whether it’s the Chicago Cubs’ famed “Curse of The Billy Goat” to the “Curse of the Bambino” that haunted the Red Sox, baseball is full of generations-spanning myths as to why some teams win and others lose . Dan tells Wendy and I a ton of new haunted baseball stories.

Yankees Stadium in particular seems to be a place where the spirits of the old players give the home team an unfair advantage. Dodgers Stadium has catacombs and of course we talk about the haunted Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee and how the ghosts there have it out for baseball players in particular! Dan fills us in on these stories and a lot more in the interview!

You can grab Dan Gordon and Mickey Bradley’s books on haunted baseball right at their website, conveniently titled HauntedBaseball.com!

Special thanks to Scott Markus of www.whatsyourghoststory.com for recommending and getting us in contact with Dan Gordon!

Going off our athletic inspiration from Dan Gordon, this week’s Sunspot song is a special sports barnburner called “All In”!

Float like a butterly,
Get knocked down and you gotta get back up,
put me in the game, I’m ready to play,
in the place where the best and mighty roam, take the field and fight,
struggle in a battle for glory.When I play, I play to win,
take my chips cuz I’m all in.
This is our time, this is our day.
Victory is the aim,
the only thing,
we will proclaim,
And when you go, go all the way.

Old Vince was right, winning is the only thing.
When somebody rocks you,
you must come back.
In this world, there is no replay,
called forth to action on this day,
Get out on the field and get ’em back.

When I play, I play to win,
take my chips cuz I’m all in.
This is our time, this is our day.
Victory is the aim,
the only thing,
we will proclaim,
And when you go, go all the way.

138 – Heaven’s Gate: 20 Years After The Science Fiction Cult Suicide

On March 26th, 1997, thirty-nine members of the Heaven’s Gate religious group were found dead in a mansion near San Diego, California. They were all wearing Nike Decade sneakers and identical black sweatsuits with patches on them that said “Heaven’s Gate Away Team”. They had happily taped Farewell Videos to say goodbye before they transitioned out of their physical bodies to “The Evolutionary Level Above Human”. At the dawn of Internet journalism and the ramping up of cable news competition, it was a mesmerizing tragedy and it dominated the airwaves that Spring.

heavens gate
C’mon, the Packers should get some kind of royalty for using the logo

In the late 90s, there was apocalypse in the air. And it wasn’t just the Doomsday Preppers who felt it or the über-religious, they’re always predicting the end of the world. Humans love round numbers (ten fingers and ten toes sure did a number on our evolutionary psychology) and the rounding of the 1999 to 2000 was freaking everyone out a little.

I was a huge Art Bell fan that would listen every night when I went to bed. Y2K was on Coast To Coast AM several times a month. Pop culture about the end of the world was at a fever pitch from Bruce Willis fighting a Texas-sized asteroid (a global killer) in Armageddon to Arnold fighting Satan in End of Days. The X-Files (the most 1990s of TV shows) had a spin-off called Millennium, for Christ’s sake. Even Doctor Who got in the act with the TV movie being about how he needs to stop The Master from destroying Earth on December 31st, 1999.

Marshall Applewhite was a Presbyterian preacher’s son that was originally a music teacher. While he got married in 1952 and had two children, he ended up getting divorced in 1968 and a short time later suffered a nervous breakdown, which was rumored to be because of an inappropriate relationship with a student. Being this was Texas in the 1960s and the student was the same sex and Marshall was a religious man, it led to some serious internal conflict.

Bonnie Nettles was a registered nurse with an interest in astrology. They met when her son was a drama student at the school that Applewhite taught at. She did an astrological forecast with him that said they were destined to work together. On New Year’s 1973, she left her family and Applewhite left his life behind and they took their spiritual mission on the road to figure out what their destiny was.

Applewhite was arrested for rental car theft and ended up in prison for six months and that’s where they refined the beliefs of Heaven’s Gate. That Applewhite and Nettles (who called themselves “Ti” and “Do”) were reincarnations of Jesus and God and that they could help people cast away their earthly (read: sexual) urges and ascend to a level without gender or race, to the “Level Above Human”.

heavens gate
I would so go to this and you know you would too!

[http://offbeatoregon.com/assets-2016/1606a.heavens-gate-ufo-cult-394/heavens-gate-ufo-poster-1780.jpg](If I saw this poster, I would be there in a second)

Their idea was that the Earth was a garden developed by extraterrestrials designed to grow souls and the aliens were coming back to harvest the souls who were ready and then the rest would be plowed under to make room for a new garden. So, it was the usual apocalyptic “we’re the only ones who are going to be saved”.

They first made national news in 1975 when they hosted an event in Waldman, Oregon and twenty people ended up going with them. 3% of the town just took off with the group without even saying goodbye.

At the group’s prime, they had almost 200 followers and lived at campsites, often performing rituals in order to rid themselves of their human impulses (8 members eventually even castrated themselves, including Applewhite. )In the beginning, the aliens were only supposed to pick everyone up, but then Nettles got cancer and died in 1985. And that changed things. How could Nettles have died? Didn’t they predict that she would be alive when the aliens came by to pick the true believers up?

Nope. Applewhite had to think fast. All of a sudden, you had to get rid of your “earthly vehicle” in order to ascend to the Level Above Human. Bonnie Nettles just went early so that she could prepare the way.

heavens gate
Look at these two, what could go wrong?!

In this episode, we talk a lot about how the beliefs of Heaven’s Gate aren’t that different than any other mainstream religion. It’s perfectly normal in our society when someone joins the priesthood and lives a celibate life. While the life of a monk or a nun might not be the most traditional American path, it’s not that weird when someones decides to do it. The idea that we are spiritual creatures living in physical shells who need to control our base sexual impulses is written into every religion there is! I’ve even done similar things to the Master Cleanse (juice fasting, and it actually feels pretty great, so I’m not going to say anything bad about it, ha!) and I bet a lot of you have too.

The pantheon of Christian Saints is full of martyrs who died for their beliefs. In Catholicism, when you’re confirmed, you take a confirmation name. I took the name of Saint Cyprian who was beheaded by the Romans for his beliefs. Is it strange that people can be led to believe that they too can become martyrs for their beliefs and ascend to a better, happier afterlife?

heavens gate
Hey, it’s St. Syprian being beheaded, how nice!

In fact, Heaven’s Gate used that in their recruitment efforts. Christianity was the original cult, they said. The normal church that every single American president has claimed to believe in started off as a persecuted cult in the Mediterranean. So, who wouldn’t like to get in on the ground floor of the next Christianity?

Marshall Applewhite felt so conflicted over his own sexual urges and how they were considered evil by his own religion, that he decided to make up his own. And Applewhite was someone who knew how to take advantage of the times. His original followers were hippies from the communes who were disillusioned with their former lives. When fascination with UFOs was at its peak, he and Bonnie used the plausibility of extraterrestrial life to talk to a generation raised on science fiction. They watched Star Wars, Close Encounters of The Third Kind, and Star Trek frequently. Applewhite used sci-fi concepts that people could understand and presented a spiritual belief that already had a basis. 77% of Americans believe that aliens have visited Earth and 63% of American adults say they are absolutely certain there is a God . Applewhite put it together like chocolate and peanut butter.

heavens gate
Wouldn’t you believe this man? Seems reasonable to me!

It’s not what Heaven’s Gate believed that made them dangerous. That belief system could have been anything. It was the Millennial Fever that the feeling that the end of the world was coming, it was the slavish dedication to their leader, Marshall Applewhite, and the belief that he was the reincarnation of Jesus. He was infallible, but he knew that wouldn’t last forever.

That’s the real danger. It’s the person who understands how to manipulate those beliefs in order to get what they want. And Marshall Applewhite wanted to die.

“Do” knew that he had to put up or shut up. Whether it was some kind of final power he wanted to feel over others, whether he believed he and Bonnie Nettles were the “UFO Two” and decades of living his own dogma had convinced him of its veracity, or whether he was just tired of being alive. He thought that it was time for him to go and he was taking his followers with him.

When it came to the end, Applewhite was no different in understanding the zeitgeist in how to manipulate people to their end.

  • He used the Hale-Bopp comet as the sign that the time had come.
  • He used the “companion” UFO to the comet that people had talked about on Coast to Coast AM as proof.
  • He took advantage of the end of the world Millennialism
  • He used modern technology to solidify their beliefs in permanent format by videotaping the goodbyes

And here’s something that’s even weirder. It’s been twenty years and we know that there was no “companion” riding with Hale-Bopp, we know that there wasn’t any spaceship that picked everyone up. But one of the former followers, who left in the early 1990s has had dreams where he believes that Do (Applewhite) still speaks to him, that he needs to spread the message. And the Heaven’s Gate website is still up! Two decades after the mass suicide, the word is still getting out.

We wrote this week’s song, “Arthuriana” by Sunspot, about how our little obsessions and interests can keep us going. How even our smallest beliefs keep us motivated, but sometimes we need to bend the truths of those beliefs to keep them close.

You are the sword,
I am the stone.
You are the lighthouse
In the storm.

Little obsession to pass the time,
Arthuriana.

You are the lady,
of the lake,
You are the comet,
of Heavens Gate.

Little obsession to keep even,
Arthuriana.

You are Gawain,
Versus Green Knight.
You are St. George and you always win the fight.

A fantasy where you’ll come back to me,
Arthuriana.

You are the grail,
From that I drink,
You’re the saddest of the angels,
I won’t blink.

Little obsession to keep us sane,
Arthuriana.

You are the knight who says nee,
You don’t capitulate or bend the knee,
All these thoughts that stalk around my mind,
Arthuriana.

Reality,
is something queer.
You were always more Morgaine than Guinevere.
The long dead still alive in my head,
Arthuriana.

You are the sword,
I am the stone.
You are the lighthouse
In the storm.

Reality,
is something queer.
You were always more Morgaine than Guinevere.
The long dead still alive in my head,
Arthuriana.

137 – Tulpas, Secret Societies, and the Chupacabra: The Paranormal Cornucopia of Nick Redfern

Nick Redfern is the author of  40 books on UFOlogy, cryptozoology, secret societies, conspiracies, and the paranormal.  An incredibly prolific researcher and author, Nick usually contributes about 2 books a year to the field. From the Men (and Women!) in Black (the real kind, not the Wil Smith variety) to the Loch Ness Monster to the CIA’s mind-controlled sex slaves (say what?!), Nick has covered almost every possible paranormal story there is.
Nick Redfern
What’s Nick hiding in the desert?

You’ve probably read some of Nick’s writing on the Mysterious Universe blog or in FATE magazine or have heard him on Coast to Coast AM or seen him on Ancient Aliens (no, he’s not the dude with the crazy hair), Monsterquest, or Penn & Teller’s Bull$%^. When there is news of the strange and unusual, Nick finds a way there. Raised in England, Nick Redern moved near Dallas, Texas and that’s where he spoke to Allison and I.

Our discussion with Nick ranges from his new book on secret societies (with so many presidents Ivy Leaguers or members of Skull & Bones, we were eager to learn if President Trump was part of any secret organizations…) to Victorian Men in Black (could that be the real inspiration for Torchwood?) to the most interesting part of the interview for me.

nick redfern
Nick Redfern, man of mystery… and bandana model.

Of all the stories that Nick has heard, the one that surprised him the most was of the Puerto Rican Chupacabra (a beast that we discuss in depth in episode 24 of the podcast) and just how believable and credible the witnesses to the stories were. That took me for a loop, because at the end of our episode, I was thinking that the Chupacabra, the mystical goatsucker itself, was just the product of an overactive imagination after someone had watched Species (a film that could have used a lot more imagination!)

I was glad however that I got to tell him my own story that was influenced by one of his books (I also told this full story in our Exploring Cryptozoology roundtable discussion in Episode 66.) On a trip to the UK and Ireland in 2008, I was reading his work, Three Men Seeking Monsters, which was about Nick and his friends going to the locations of legendary paranormal sightings across Britain, listening to punk rock, and drinking prodigious amounts of ale. That was the kind of trip that I could get behind and it was a fun book to read while we were on our own road trip across the island.

It was a weird time because I was just about to quit my day job to go for it as a musician and my wife (girlfriend at the time) was contemplating leaving her career as well. So we were a couple of people who were planning on changing our lives completely.

 We went to Ireland for a few days on the trip to see the sites and we visited the Blarney Castle,  where you kiss the Blarney Stone and it’s supposed to give you the gift of telling lies and making up stories, which sounds bad right before I tell a crazy story.

nick redfern culpas mr. ed sideburns
Hey Mr. Ed, how do you like my 2008 sideburns?

 One of the concepts that Redfern deals with in Three Men Seeking Monsters is that maybe these paranormal visitations of ghosts, UFOs, Bigfoot, faeries, and the like are really just manifestations of our belief, the Tulpa or “Tibetan thoughtform”. As Wikipedia calls it, “a being or object created through sheer spiritual or mental discipline alone. Indian Buddhist texts call it an unreal, illusory, or mind-created apparition.”

I’d never heard of that before and I thought it was a really unique concept at the time. We were talking about it a couple of days earlier. While we were walking the grounds of the castle, we were in the park alone when we spotted the shadow of an animal a hundred yards away. I saw what I thought was a dog or small wolf. In the back of my mind a little bit, I was terrified it was some kind of Hellhound like the kind Nick talks about in his book (hey, when you’re all alone walking around in a foreign country, sometimes your mind wanders a bit!) My wife, however, said she saw a cat.

nick redfern tulpa
What manner of beastie is that?! And why do these shots always have to be blurry?

Which she thought was a miracle, because while she was considering a career change she’d been offered a position at a cat specialty clinic in town just before we left and was wandering around the British Isles hoping to find any kind of sign on what to do with her life. Seeing a mysterious shadowy animal while on the trail was one thing, but us both seeing something different was another. And her seeing a cat was the icing on the cake.

A closer up shot of the Devil Dog of Blarney! Okay, okay, I guess it does look like a cat

Who knows what it was? Probably just a normal Irish kitty running around, but it certainly felt like something else. And as we checked our cameras and it disappeared when we looked away, it sure felt like it might be that sign she was looking for, and that it just might have been a Tulpa, the thought form that I first read about in Nick’s book just days earlier.

In honor of Nick’s book and Chupacabra stories and the strange creature I saw in the woods, we thought this week’s song would be perfect for a little beastly Sunspot goodness about , this rocker is actually based on the fable of the “Scorpion and the Frog” and it’s called “Nature of the Beast”.

 I’m loving, caring, and kind,
you’ll put your stinger in my backside,
your venom I can’t resist,
so let’s get on with this little tryst.

You love me,
You hate me,
You can try but you can’t change me.
I’m a victim,
I’m a killer,
I can’t help it, that’s my nature.
My nature.

I’m naive, but I’m not a fool.
You’re designed to be cold and cruel.
You can’t help your insatiable bloodlust,
I can’t help my misguided trust.

You love me,
You hate me,
You can try but you can’t change me.
I’m a victim,
I’m a killer,
I can’t help it, that’s my nature.

You can’t deny what you can’t control,
the beast is cold of heart but pure of soul.
there’s no changing spots through an exit poll,
so let’s take a dive in the swimming hole.

You love me,
You hate me,
You can try but you can’t change me.
I’m a victim,
I’m a killer,
I can’t help it, that’s my nature.
That’s my nature.

136 – Paranormal Paradise: The Mysteries of Hawaii with Lopaka Kapanui

This week, we bring on Robert Lopaka Kapanui, who we discussed at length in our episode 57 on Haunted Hawaii. Lopaka is a native Hawaiian who runs Mysteries of Hawai’i ghost tours.  He’s a writer, actor, and master storyteller who lives on the island of Oahu.

lopaka mysteries of hawaii
Lopaka and his Paranormal Paradise

Allison from Milwaukee Ghosts joins us once again as we talk with Lopaka about what brought him into the world of the supernatural and some of his favorite legends, ghost tales, and more from the Mysteries of Hawaii.

Since Lopaka was killed on Hawaii Five-O (the latest version with Jin from LOST!) twice, we thought that maybe that one of the reasons that they cast him is that he looks great dead and must be a convincing victim! So here’s the Sunspot track,  “Good-Looking Corpse”.

I’m so bored that I could die,
but at least I’d leave a good-looking corpse,
of a post-modern poster child.
They say he didn’t feel a thing,
but it didn’t mean a thing.

We’re all looking for a reason,
we’d love to kill ourselves,
like maybe Plath or Hemingway.
I put on my best black turtleneck,
I smoked a dozen cigarettes,
and raised my eyebrows all day.

Gimme drugs.
Gimme sex.
Gimme booze.
Help me forget that there’s nothing new under the sun.
Make me deaf.
Make me dumb.
Anyway to make me numb,
because there’s nothing new under the sun.

Just a glamorous little junkie,
that was a little freak, a little funky.
A good-looking corpse is what I’ll be.
Old rockstars never die, they just OD.

We’re all looking for a reason,
we’d love to kill ourselves,
like maybe Plath or Hemingway.
I put on my best black turtleneck,
I smoked a dozen cigarettes,
and raised my eyebrows all day.

Gimme drugs.
Gimme sex.
Gimme booze.
Help me forget that there’s nothing new under the sun.
Make me deaf.
Make me dumb.
Anyway to make me numb,
because there’s nothing new under the sun.