Tag Archives: paranormal

133 – Popobawa: Dr. Martin Walsh and The Idea Virus

Martin Walsh is a social anthropologist with a PhD from the University of Cambridge.  He has extensive field experience in East Africa including the Tanzanian archipelago of Zanzibar.

popobawa dr. martin walsh
Look at the red star to find Zanzibar

We first heard about Dr. Walsh in the Gray Brothers’ documentary about sleep paralysis, The Nightmare, (check out our interview here!) where he was the liaison between the people of Zanzibar and the filmmakers. They were exploring the mystery of Popobawa (literally translated to English as “bat-wing”), an evil shapeshifting spirit who would visit people in the night and poke them where the Sun don’t shine.

Of course, we’re being flippant, but that’s part of it. The very intimate nature of the violation is one of the reasons of the legend was so scary, funny, and fascinating to the Tanzanian people. As Dr. Walsh describes it, there was a period in 1995 where that’s all the people talked about, a national obsession.

popobawa dr. martin walsh
An artist’s rendition of Popobawa, often portrayed as a one-eyed demon with bat wings, in the real legend, it was a shapeshifter and appeared in many different forms.

Much like the Clown Hysteria hit in 2016 in the United States and it spread through the news and social media, stories of Popobawa’s nocturnal visits spread through word of mouth where people would tell personal stories of waking up paralyzed and seeing a terrifying shapeshifter pressing on their chest. In fact, the stories very often resemble alien abduction tales. In one of the wildest tales that Martin talks about in the interview, there’s a spinning dog with a police siren on its head. And of course, accompanied by a fetid stink (shades of Joshua Cutchin’s Brimstone Deceit?)

popbawa martin walsh the grey brothers
Dr. Martin Walsh with The Gray Brothers filiming “The Nightmare”

But this wasn’t just harmless sleep paralysis, the panic that spread through the community caused several deaths. Since Popobawa could appear as anyone, that means that anyone acting strangely or just a little unusual could be the evil spirit in human form. Some poor mentally ill folks ended up being mistaken for Popobawa and were killed by the mob.

Dr. Walsh wrote an academic paper about this phenomenon shortly after it all went down, you can even read it online (and I recommend it, it’s not stuffy or difficult and gets into some real fascinating detail.) Click here to check out “Killing Popobawa: collective panic and violence in Zanzibar”

popobawa dr. martin walsh
Dr. Martin Walsh

Dr. Walsh goes into several reasons as to why this idea virus might have spread so quickly and such a ridiculous legend became so popular in our discussion, but one of the things that he brought up really made me think about our interview with Jack Hunter, another British student of Anthropology.

One of the things Martin believes is important to the story is that the panic took place during the Islamic Holy Month of Ramadan, and that’s a month where everyone is fasting, they’re not sleeping as much, they’re praying more, etc… they’re engaging in rituals. One of the things that Jack is studying is how people across the world have used rituals to facilitate paranormal experiences.

popobawa dr. martin walsh
Dr. Martin Walsh on location in Tanzania

The inhabitants of Zanzibar were doing exactly that when Popobawa came for a visit. Whether or not people were really visited by a single-eyed bat demon with a penchant for you know what, Martin mentions that they could very well have been setting themselves up for being more likely to have a sleep paralysis experience.  Especially once the first one happens and people start hearing about it and you might manifest it in your own bed.

Martin, of course, is featured in The Nightmare (which you can watch above) but he also has some authors he can recommend if you’re interested in learning more about this topic:

And don’t forget that Dr. Walsh has lots of work available online where you can learn more about Popobawa and Tanzania!

Martin also works with Oxfam, an organization dedicated to poverty eradication, health, and human rights in some of the most vulnerable parts of the world. You can find more about their mission and his work right here.

This week’s song was inspired by a couple of the things Martin said in the interview. Number one, he talked about the “twilight zone” between waking and dreaming. Number two, the widespread panic that spread throughout his village one night that was probably started  by his night watchman who got scared and ran away. Nothing actually happened but the whole village was terrified. Those two things put together really reminded me of the classic Twilight Zone episode, “The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street”.

There’s a great line at the end of the episode where two aliens are talking to each other discussing how their simple mindgame of turning electricity on and off selectively down the street has made the formerly friendly neighbors turn on each other. ”

“They pick the most dangerous enemy they can find,” one of the aliens says, “and it’s themselves.” And in the end, he chillingly adds, “The world is full of Maple Streets.” The Popobawa panic was one of those instances. This song is titled after its inspiration, “The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street”.
What do we do
the switches won’t respond
point our fingers to
a 5th column from the vast beyond
who’s hiding what
another wild theory
Who can you trust
when we’re yelling in the streets
and behind every picket fence
you’ll find your own worst enemy.
the monsters are due on Maple Street.
A simple pattern
It’s always the same
When the unknown appears
We find someone to blame
A trigger in plain sight
Agitates the hive
It’s just a matter of time and
We’ll eat each other alive
What are you guilty of?
What are you waiting for?
Who’s the little green man
inside a meteor?
and behind every picket fence
you’ll find your own worst enemy.
the monsters are due on Maple Street.
Inside every closed door,
there lies a new conspiracy
the monsters are due on Maple Street.
And our world is full of Maple Streets.

85 – April Fool’s Day: History’s Best Paranormal Pranks

April Fool’s Day. Just how did we get an unofficial holiday that’s based around making the people around you look stupid?

First things first, we have an update from our Zombie Apocalypse episode, because there’s been new research that about the parasite Toxoplasma Gondii that lives in the bellies of the little feline friends. This parasite has been said to manipulate the behavior of rodents to make them run towards cats instead of away from them!

We talk about the Gizmodo article last week that discussed how toxoplasmosis could be linked to the Rage disorder, IED (Intermittent Explosive Disorder.) Ever have a friend that blows up at the littlest things for no reason or that has completely unpredictable behavior that results in one or more of you spending the night in jail? It just might be the parasite. In the movie, 28 Days Later, the virus that turns people into cannibalistic monsters is called “The Rage Virus”. Coincidence?

So, April Fool’s isn’t just a Hallmark holiday, it’s been around for hundreds of years and we’re not quite sure the origin behind it. Some say that it has to do with the changing of the Gregorian Calendar to the Julian (when celebrating the New Year went from April 1st to December 31st). If you got the New Year date wrong after the change, then you were the April Fool!

There was even an April Fool’s Day prank about the origin of April Fool’s Day when a Boston University professor suggested that it came from a day when the Holy Roman Emperor decided to let a court jester rule the land for a “day of absurdity”, the only catch is that he made the whole thing up and Associated Press writers didn’t catch it for a couple of weeks. You can still find that origin floating around the Internet (of course!)

But it seems that it’s not a Western Civilization phenomenon, because they have something similar in India as well for their Huli festival and people have traced this kind of celebration all the way back to Roman times.  The  best guess is that humans have been celebrating the Vernal Equinox for thousands of years and part of that celebration of new life is playing jokes on each other.

According to the Witchology website, even though we’re not clear on the origins of April Fool’s Day, there are some superstitions behind it:

  1. Pranks are to be performed before Noon, otherwise it’s bad luck for the person doing the tricking.
  2. If you don’t respond to an April Fool’s Day prank with good humor, then it’s bad luck for the person being tricked!
  3. If you’re fooled by a pretty girl, then you’ve got a good shot at marrying her (that seems to be the “wishful thinking” rule…)
  4. Speaking of marriage, men who get married on April Fool’s Day will be ruled by their wives (that seems like a relic from a much more misogynist age)
  5. Children born on April Fool’s Day will be lucky… except for gambling!

But throughout history, people have used this time of year to pull paranormal pranks, from “discovering” the Loch Ness Monster to landing a UFO in London.

  1. The Fox Sisters – these Victorian Age preteens became world famous with their spiritualism by hoaxing (which all began as a bit of fun on April Fool’s Eve), but it’s that fame that ended up being their undoing.
  2. Virgin’s Richard Branson takes his love of ballooning to a new level as he flies a UFO-looking balloon over London, causing quite a hullabaloo in the process!
  3. An April Fool’s day prank in a small German newspaper in 1950 where they pretended to have captured a “Martian” gets discovered by Roswell researchers three decades later and ends up in the non-fiction section of the library.
  4. In 1972, a zoological expedition claims that they’ve found the Loch Ness Monster in a story that gets sensationalized writeups all over the world, only ending up being a prank pulled on them by their co-worker, who had no idea it would be one for the ages.
  5. This one’s not paranormal but it’s close to where we are (in Madison, Wisconsin) the Capital Times publishes a story on April Fool’s Day in 1933 about the dome of the capitol collapsing, angering a sensitive reader base. It’s one of the first photo manipulations that today we’d just say was an “obvious Photoshop”.
  6. This one isn’t as paranormal, but it’s brilliant. In 2014, NPR posted a story called “Why Doesn’t America Read Anymore” with explicit instructions not to respond on social media because it was just a way to see who’d actually been clicking through and reading on their stories or just commenting on the headlines on Facebook. It ended up getting thousands of comments, showing that next time you see people make enflamed and angry comments on a story on social media, you better read it before checking it out yourselves. (And that’s a topic we broach in our new EP release, “American Monsters”, which is coming out THIS WEEK!)

The song this week is the Sunspot song, “Fool”. A track about being unafraid of getting your heart broken again and again. It’s better to have an open heart that is vulnerable to the evils of the world, than in the words of John Lennon, to “hide your love away”.

I’ve been hurt more times than I can count
I’ve had my head smashed in and my guts pulled out.
I’ve been cheated on, mistreated some, my heart held for ransom,
I’m the jerk, that piece of work, who just can’t figure out
that
this big bad world is cruel,
so bury your soul deep and they never can hurt you,
I know that it might be uncool, but
I ain’t got time to tow the line on trust issues.
I’ve got a body made for working,
I’ve got a heart made for abuse,
I’ve got a penchant for fast living,
and I’m stretching out my youth.
I’ve got a mind to keep on loving,
Don’t care the ugly truth,
Well we’ve got all the cynics we need,
so I’d rather play the fool.
I’ve been wrong more times than you’d believe,
I’ve had my faith tested, my kindness deceived,
I’ve been betrayed and led astray and the victim of foul play,
and you might mock this laughingstock who won’t concede naivety,
because
I know this big bad world is cruel,
and if you bury your soul deep then they never can hurt you,
well I might sound just like a tool but
I ain’t got time to tow the line on trust issues.
I’ve got a body made for working,
I’ve got a heart made for abuse,
I’ve got a penchant for fast living,
and I’m stretching out my youth.
I’ve got a mind to keep on loving,
Don’t care about the ugly truth,
Well we’ve got all the cynics we need,
so I’d rather play the fool.

5 – Interview with Susan Masino: Rock Journalist / Paranormal Researcher – Part 2

As promised, we present the second half of Mike’s interview with Susan Masino!

Before getting right into the meat of the show, we thank you for listening. Seriously, it’s been fun beginning this new project and getting some content out there that’s a little different from our norm. If you’re enjoying the show, we’d really appreciate it if you could leave a review (the more stars the better!) in iTunes or Stitcher Radio. Or, if you prefer, just spread the word by telling a friend about our show or linking to it on Facebook! Please make sure you leave your name in the review/link so we can thank you in a future episode.

Beginning on a positive note, Susan describes the larger-than-life presence that was Bon Scott of AC/DC. Although he never gave any indication of it, Susan learned through her research that he was struggling quite a bit throughout his rockstar-idol years. She tells us how, although Bon is no longer in this world with us, he’s still around the band and the AC/DC world and makes himself known through the dreams and feelings of the living. Susan tells how Bon continues to be a ray of light, in spite of his absence in the physical arena of our living world.

Next, the discussion turns to the topic of synchronicity. Also commonly referred to as white light, good energy, intuition or gut feeling, Susan explains how a person’s inner self often guides (or tries to guide) but is easy to ignore. She reminds us that the “universe has a great sense of humor” and we should pay attention when signs appear that we should pay attention to. Listen for the best example of Susan’s experience with clairaudience, which occurred while she was in living in New York Sublets, it may just make you take notice next time the “voice in your head” tells you something!

The experience led to her job at a recording studio that worked on projects with Steve Winwood, Diana Ross, John Denver, Joe Cocker, the soundtrack for the movie “Beat Streat” and music for the 1984 Olympics. In the basement of Studio 54, did Susan see any disco-dancing ghosts? She didn’t see apparitions, but Susan did have vivid dreams while living in NYC during the “wild west days” of New York.

Finally, Susan shares the biggest dream(s) she has had that came true.

Featured Song: Grand Guignol from the album Singularity

This song is available on iTunes, has a video on YouTube (you’ll see Wendy in a different light after watching it), and even has a pop-up video on YouTube, old-school VH-1-style!

Lyrics:

You love the drama,
You play the role,
and you’ll do anything,
to get my goat.
and when you bleed some,
it’s a horror show,
You think I’m crazy,
well you should know.

There’s always something wrong with you,
Someone’s always done something to you.
Stop being such a huge asshole.
Your big exaggerations,
always lead to a confrontation,
This little act is getting old,
you’re the Grand Guignol.

The sky is always falling down,
I can’t take you anywhere downtown,
It’s a bitchfest or a catfight,
don’t you know anyone you like?
You’re making threats so the stage is set for another breakdown.

There’s always something wrong with you,
Someone’s always done something to you.
Stop being such a huge asshole.
Your big exaggerations,
always lead to a confrontation,
This little act is getting old,
you’re the Grand Guignol.

You love the drama,
You play the role,
and you’ll do anything,
to get my goat.
and when you bleed some,
it’s a horror show,
You think I’m crazy,
well you should know.

The sky is always falling down,
I can’t take you anywhere downtown,
It’s a bitchfest or a catfight,
don’t you know anyone you like?
The stage is set,
off go the bets,
You’re making threats,
you’re killing pets,
in another breakdown.

There’s always something wrong with you.
What am I gonna do with you?
Stop being such a huge asshole.
This little act is getting old.
You’re the Grand Guignol.

4 – Interview with Susan Masino: Rock Journalist / Paranormal Researcher – Part 1

In our very first interview episode, Mike talks to special guest Susan Masino about some incredibly interesting crossovers between the music world and the world beyond.

As author of books: Let There Be Rock: The Story of AC/DC, Rock ‘N’ Roll Fantasy-My Life and Times with AC/DC, Van Halen, Kiss…, and The Secrets of the Universe: Universal Laws, Past Lives, Ghost Adventures and More, Ms. Masino is the perfect guest to join See You On The Other Side, and she’s got so many interesting things to say that we certainly hope she’ll return to the show in the future.

Susan tells us how she became interested in the music scene and the paranormal / psychic world. Why do so many venues and theaters have a propensity toward hauntings? She has her own opinion on the matter, and some great supporting stories to share that may bring a shiver up your spine.

Not only are ghosts and hauntings an area where Susan has had many experiences, but the topic of past lives / reincarnation is also very near and dear to her, as she believes her own son has a strong link to the Titanic. His story was featured on the television series “Ghost Inside My Child” because of the incredible dreams and visions he had as a young child. This brings to the conversation the topic of movies, and how they can often trigger memories of past lives in people. Susan also tells about a connection she herself may have to an actress from the past.

Featured Song: Saturday Night Gospel

Lyrics:

Well, we started playing when rock was on cassettes,
and the girls would tease their bangs with oceans of Aquanet.
Hang out in parking lots and learn to smoke cigarettes,
and we canonized all the rocker guys.

I used to high-speed dub my tapes for all my friends,
10 years on with Napster, yeah we did it all again.
We’d preach to country heathens who didn’t understand the reasons,
why I had to wear a concert shirt,
and every Saturday night we went to church.

And we sang,
Amen, my friend. Hallelujah.
Don’t you take that name in vain.
Praise the Lord with the sound, baptize me until I drown.
Let a choir of fallen angels sing my name,
I still believe the song remains the same, we haven’t changed.

And there were mullets as far as the eye could see.
My Blessed Virgin looked just like Debbie Harry,
We prayed at the Houses of the Holy,
And just like John Lennon, we all were bigger than,
you know.

I used to high-speed dub my tapes for all my friends,
10 years on with Napster, yeah we did it all again.
We’d preach to country heathens who didn’t understand the reasons,
why I always wore a concert shirt,
and every Saturday night we went to church.

And we sang
Amen, my friend. Hallelujah.
Don’t you take that name in vain.
Praise the Lord with the sound, baptize me until I drown.
Let a choir of fallen angels sing my name,
I still believe the song remains the same,
we haven’t changed.

We started playing when rock was on cassettes,
and the girls teased their bangs with oceans of Aquanet.
We hung out in parking lots, learned to smoke cigarettes,
and we canonized all the rocker guys.

And we sang,
Amen, my friend. Hallelujah.
Don’t you take that name in vain.
Praise the Lord with the sound, baptize me until I drown.
Let a choir of fallen angels sing my name,
And we sang,
Amen, my friend. Hallelujah.
Don’t you take that name in vain.
Praise the Lord with the sound, baptize me until I drown.
Let a choir of fallen angels sing my name,
For I do believe the song remains the same,
we haven’t changed.

0 – Make First Contact with Mike and Wendy, Your Haunted Hosts to the Weird Reality Between Paranormal Activity and Pop Culture

This is the first episode of Sunspot’s brand new podcast, See You On The Other Side, a new paranormal pop culture podcast. In it, you’ll get a little background as to why we find it fun to talk about the supernatural, paranormal, and general other-worldly topics and their relationship with the entertainment industry.

Mike and Wendy recap some of the strange things that they and their bandmate Ben have witnessed while on tour, including a terrifying post-show excursion into the haunted basement of Ballyhoo’s in Merrill, Wisconsin, visiting the haunted railroad crossing in San Antonio, Texas, brushes with orbs caught on video, suspicions of aliens, and more.

Please contact us if you have any questions or suggestions for show topics! We’d love to hear from you.

Featured Song: We Are The Darkness from the album Singularity

This song is available on iTunes and also has a video on YouTube. We hope you enjoy it!

Lyrics:

We are the impossible,
the things that should not be,
caught between Hell and Purgatory.
We are the invisible.
Waiting in the dark,
bearing the Devil’s mark.
We are the untouchable,
the kind they walk right through and never even have a clue.
We are the polluted souls.
Sloth and gluttony,
a leper colony.
The unwashed and the unholy.

Better to rule in Hell than never have a chance,
I’ve never been so glad to be forever damned.

And we will scream and we will cry,
and we will stand against the wind and watch them rail against the night.
Beware the human and his silly little game,
We are The Darkness, baby, we are not the same.

We are the undesirable,
Bleeding from the barbs carved into pariah hearts.
We are the un-nameable.
Demonic and sinful,
diabolical.
We are the abominable,
with spirits that are stained,
drunken on the blood of saints.
We are the wicked and the cursed,
doomed to fear the dawn,
an infernal spawn.
We are the whores of Babylon.

Better to rule in Hell than never have a chance,
I’ve never been so glad to be forever damned.

And we will scream and we will cry,
and we will stand against the wind and watch them rail against the night.
Calling all vampires, calling all succubi,
We are what they fear the most and we will never die.
And we will scream and we will cry,
and we will stand against the wind and watch them rail against the night.
Beware the human and his silly little game,
We are The Darkness, baby, we are not the same.

We are The Darkness, baby, we are not the same.
We are The Darkness, baby, we are not the same.
We are the ones that they will try to hold in chains,
the ones like you and me, we are a different breed.
And they’ll call us evil, the sons and daughters of Cain,
Find excuses for their hate and they will know us,
When they curse our name.
When they curse our name.
When they curse our name.
And they will know us when they curse our name.

And we will scream and we will cry,
and we will stand against the wind and watch them rail against the night.
Calling all vampires, calling all succubi,
We are what they fear the most and we will never die.
And we will scream and we will cry,
and we will stand against the wind and watch them rail against the night.
Beware the human and his silly little game,
We are the darkness, baby, we are not the same.

Links to Things We Discussed about the Band and Paranormal Pop Culture