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

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

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

Mike, Wendy, and Scott manning the booth!

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

Chuck Woolery, eat your heart out!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John Lennon, “Beautiful Boy”

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

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

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

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

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

213 – The Autumnal Equinox: Legends and Superstitions

When people who live in less temperate subtropical climates talk about how they “miss the seasons” they’re really talking about Fall and Spring. And Autumn is something to behold: the landscape canvas as colors change on the trees, the refreshing briskness of the air, it’s life’s last gasp before the cold dead of Winter. Traditionally on September 21st, 22d, or 23rd the Autumnal Equinox is when it starts getting darker every day in the Northern Hemisphere, which is depressing. But it’s also a time for great food, bonfire parties, and celebrating reaping the harvest from the work done earlier in the year.

It’s also when ancient peoples believed that the Veil started becoming thinner between our world and the spirit world, so of course we love it because it’s the beginning of the Halloween season. Some people say you’re not supposed to wear white after Labor Day, we say that’s when you start wearing costumes!

Check out this sweet fantasy art, it’s “Modron” by Shanina Conway

It’s also a cool Holiday for neo-Pagans called Mabon (we just decided to say it “May-bone” because that’s an acceptable pronunciation and it sounds more badass). Mabon was stolen from his mother Modron (the Welsh mother goddess who brings life to the world) when he was only three days old. He was taken to the Underworld and that’s why we have winter because the Mother Goddess was peeved at her child being stolen. Funny enough, that’s super similar to the Greek myth of Demeter and Persephone. WHOA, could that be more cross-cultural pollination We explore that and a lot more in this episode which was a topic requested by one of our Patreon members (thanks for the idea, Chuck!)

Who’s that cool guy wearing Blu Blockers and sitting on Hadrian’s Wall? Oh wait, it’s me!

Some of the other topics we cover in this episode:

  • Will you cast a shadow at noon on the day of the Equinox?
  • How you can perform a magic ritual with just an apple
  • How much it costs to party at Stonehenge on an equinox
  • Why Medieval Jews thought it wasn’t safe to drink the water during the Autumnal Equinox
  • Is it really easier to balance an egg during an Equinox?

For the song this week, we picked out the legend of Mabon because in one of the variations of the tale, he is saved by King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. Mabon was stolen and taken beyond Hadrian’s Wall, the Roman barrier meant to hold off the native Britons that they couldn’t conquer. Arthur and his men needed the help of several magical animals in order to break Mabon out of his prison and they freed the child who would eventually own Arthur in battle.

Well, when you’ve got King Arthur and magical animals to work with, we couldn’t miss out on that! And it just wouldn’t be a British-influenced song unless we made it a little Iron Maiden-eqsue. So here’s the Sunspot take on the story of Mabon, “Beyond The Wall”.

In the land of the Savage,
a barbarian horde
lies the child of the Goddess
to become the Harvest Lord.

The scales of light and dark in perfect balance
the son of Modron will com to take his vengeance

We ride
we fight
We hear
the call,
to save
the child
beyond
the Wall
beyond the Wall.

With the power of the Stag
and the wisdom of the Salmon.
The Knights of the Round,
have come for the Green Man.

The scales of light and dark in perfect balance
the son of Modron will come to take his vengeance

We ride
we fight
We hear
the call,
to save
the child
beyond
the Wall
beyond the Wall.

174 – Mothman: Evil Incarnate with Loren Coleman

This week we have two 50th anniversary tragedies that we talk about on the podcast, one musical and one paranormal. The first is that in Madison we’re acknowledging the half-centennial of the death of Otis Redding, whose plane crashed into Lake Monona on December 10th, 1967. He was only 26 years old, just a year off the cursed 27 Club.

The second tragic anniversary has many more overtones of high strangeness. The Silver Bridge collapsed in Point Pleasant, West Virginia on December 15th, 2017 thirteen months to the day after the first reported sighting of the Mothman.

mothman evil incarnate loren coleman
The Mothman as drawn by an eyewitness in 1966.

The Mothman was a winged humanoid with red eyes that people were seeing in the area as well as getting an overwhelming sense of dread.  Once the mothman sightings started happening, other paranormal events began rearing their head. Reports of Men in Black, UFOs, prophetic dreams, and a strange grinning man by the name of Indrid Cold started circulating and everything culminated in the tragic Silver Bridge collapse that killed 46 people on December 15th, 1967.

Researcher John Keel famously collected all these stories and really created the modern narrative of the Mothman with his book, The Mothman Prophecies, in 1975.  It famously becomes a big Hollywood movie in 2002. When Keel became unable to do press for the film, he called upon his old friend  Loren Coleman to handle the interviews.

loren coleman mothman evil incarnate
Allison Jornlin with Loren Coleman (second from left) at the 2016 Milwaukee Paranormal Conference

Now to say that Loren is a noted cryptozoologist is an understatement, he’s one of the most respected researchers in the field and I’ve been reading his books for decades. He wrote Mothman and Other Curious Encounters in 2002 and even John Keel called it “the most complete overview of the phenomenon.”

Fast forward to 2017 and the Mothman is back in the headlines. This time with alleged sightings all over the Chicagoland area. Allison from Milwaukee Ghosts has been going to the location of the sightings that have been reported and creating videos of the area to help people visualize them. It’s an eye opening look into the painstaking investigative process. Check out her YouTube channel to see her dozens of on-location videos at http://www.youtube.com/mothman.

The anniversary of the Silver Bridge collapse, December 15th, is also  Loren Coleman’s latest book comes out , Mothman: Evil Incarnate. The Mothman hasn’t been content to be in the shadows. Loren talks about the Mothman Death Curse and the misfortune that seems to surround people who find themselves investigating this strange phenomenon decades after the original incident, book, and movie.

This episode is not only a great primer in the history of the Mothman case, but it’s also an insightful look into how Loren Coleman became one of the world’s greatest cryptozoologists as Allison and I get to discuss his investigative process with him.

To get a signed copy of Mothman: Evil Incarnate, click here to buy a signed copy from Loren’s awesome International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

In the episode, we also talk about Wendy’s visit to the Mothman museum in Point Pleasant, West Virginia and her pilgrimage to the new Silver Bridge. Wendy watched The Mothman Prophecies and listened to the original book this summer on a roadtrip and you can check out her reactions above as part of Scott Markus‘ fun video series “A Ghost Hunter Watches”.

One of the things that was surprising about the Mothman story is how UFOs and weirdness seems to occur in Point Pleasant as well, it’s like they didn’t just get one X-File, they got the whole cabinet. Indrid Cold was a mysterious character who showed up during the events and asked people about the lights they saw in the sky. He made mysterious phone calls to Keel, talked to the local reporter, and even was said by one report to speak to someone telepathically.  He was so smily and strange, they called him The Grinning Man.

We don’t feel there’s been enough attention given to Mr. Cold so for this week’s track, we decided to write him his own song. This is Sunspot with “The Grinning Man”.

A form made of chaos
it can smell the blood on you
this planet haunted by us
and the owners want their due

a thin veneer
hiding a zone of fear

it knows your wobbliest spots
sees inside your darkest of hearts
knows every little trick that helps you lose your soul

a banshee screams
burned right into your dreams

When the black wings flutter and red eyes look about
you’ll see the grinning man when the lights go out
then the telephone rings, there’s no one at the end
you’ll see the grinning man when the lights go dead

it knows your wobbliest spots
sees inside your darkest of hearts
this planet haunted by us
the owners want their due

a thin veneer
hiding a zone of fear

When the black wings flutter and red eyes look about
you’ll see the grinning man when the lights go out
then the telephone rings, there’s no one at the end
you’ll see the grinning man when the lights go dead